Identity theft mainly encompasses the act of obtaining people’s personal data illegally. These can include social security numbers, names, and credit card details. Over time, people worldwide have reported identity cases leading to billions of losses.
To help us understand more about the vice, here are some identity theft facts to get you started.
1. Credit Card Fraud Is Among the Most Prevalent Identity Theft Cases
There is no limit to how far identity theft perpetrators can go. From tax identity theft to bank fraud and loan/lease fraud, they can do it all. However, credit card fraud is the most prevalent form of identity theft cases. Research shows that about 35.4% of identity theft incidents in 2018 involved credit cards.
2. Identity Theft Losses Run in the Billions
Of the US$56 billion combined fraud losses reported in 2020, identity theft accounted for US$43 billion of it. Even though financial institutions continue to put stringent measures to stop viral scamming, fraudsters devise new ways to go around them.
3. An Identity Thief Impersonated a Surgeon and Performed Life-Saving Surgeries
Ferdinand Waldo Demara was a famous American imposter who, among many things, stole the identity of a surgeon. While aboard a Navy destroyer, he assumed the role of a known surgeon and performed actual life-saving surgeries. He memorized a medical textbook before these escapades, but still…
4. Social Media Hugely Contributes to Identity Theft Cases
Most social media platforms generate income through targeted advertising. As such, they require as much personal information from users as possible. Given the minimal oversight by the authorities, consumers are exposed to potential identity theft and fraud. Most don’t know/care about their security, privacy, and overall identity protection measures.
5. Advanced Authentication Measures Can Help Reduce Identity Theft Cases
So far, fraudsters seem to have a way around almost all the measures put by relevant institutions to combat them. Fortunately, consumers have some hope; most targeted hotspots are adjusting accordingly.
For instance, various digital payment channels have incorporated stronger platform authentication measures. These include fingerprint scanning, two-factor authentication, and facial recognition. Users are not entirely out of the woods yet, but there is hope for stopping identity theft cases.
6. The PATH Act Forbids the IRS From Returning Tax Refunds To Prevent Identity Theft
The PATH Act is a tax law put in place during the President Obama era. Among other things, it forbids the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from giving tax refunds to certain filers before February 15th. This is to reduce the chances of potential identity theft cases.
7. Anyone Can Have Their Identity Stolen
Unfortunately, identity theft fraudsters do not spare anyone. They can steal details from men, women, and even children. If anything, there are cases where the thieves used minors’ personal information to illegally obtain credit or employment.
8. Identity Theft Victims Can Report With the FTC
Depending on the severity of the problem, identity theft victims from the United States can report to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) or the police. Putting fraud alerts on their credit reports and freezing them can also help for a start.
9. Unexplainable Charges May Be a Sign of Identity Theft
Usually, fraudsters target avenues where they can get money – credit cards are one of their most popular options. Unfortunately, victims don’t know about their stolen identities until it’s too late. However, there are some telltale signs to look out for. They include unexplainable charges, additional cards they didn’t apply for, and incorrect items on credit card reports.
10. Various Types Of Identity Theft Are Available
As each day passes, identity theft fraudsters find new avenues. As it stands, the most common ones include the following:
- Data breach
- Child identity theft
- Medical identity theft
- Biometric identity theft
- Credit card
- Online identity theft
- Synthetic identity theft
- Driver’s license identity theft
- Estate identity theft
11. Identity Theft Is Prevalent
Did you know that around 1 in 15 people are victims of identity theft? In 2019 alone, more than 650,572 people suffered some form of identity theft. Further research shows that Americans are most susceptible to this form of fraud even though it is not region-specific.
12. The Identity of a Life Lock’s CEO Was Stolen 13 Times
LifeLock is a platform that helps users prevent identity theft through various technological means. To prove that his company was efficient, the CEO, Todd Davis, posted his social security number on billboards. Todd’s identity was stolen 13 times, and he was fined an additional $12 million for false advertising.
13. Someone Stole Jeremy Clarkson’s Identity and Donated Money from His Bank Account
Jeremy Clarkson, a renowned TV host known for his show Top Gear, published his bank details in The Sun newspaper in 2008. He wanted to disregard a previous story where it was alleged that over 25 million people’s personal data were stolen.
This turned out to be a wrong move as someone used his bank account details to donate 500 via direct debit to the charity Diabetes UK. Jeremy later admitted that he was wrong.
14. One of The Tasks of the United States Secret Service is To Prevent Identity Theft
The United States Secret Service protects the president and ensures every security aspect runs smoothly. However, the institution is also liable for dealing with fake currency and preventing identity theft together with credit card fraud.