The end of the year may swiftly be approaching, but the identity theft crisis shows no signs of abating any time soon. From massive data breaches exposing millions of people’s personal information to an onslaught of cyberattacks on your phone or email inbox, the risk of fraud has never been higher. It’s easy for the average individual to turn a blind eye to the situation, thinking that there is no reason to worry until an incident occurs. But an out of sight, out of mind approach to the risk of data breach and cyberattacks can open the door to digital disaster.
Keeping yourself informed and aware of the many risks is a solid step in the right direction, and your having a plan in place to help navigate identity theft fallout is always recommended. With that in mind, we want to make this post about sharing some facts and statistics that show this fraud crisis on full display. Some of this information might shock you, but by highlighting the extent of it, the hope is to provide the necessary tools and information to keep you and your family out of harm’s way as best as possible.
Identity Theft Loses Now Increase by Over $1.5 Billion
The FTC reports that consumers lost more than $3.3 billion directly from fraud last year. This marks a $1.5 billion increase from 2019. That trend looks more than likely to continue, and 2021 will mark another record year for losses. Scams make up a significant portion of these numbers with $1.2 billion lost because of imposter scams and another $246 million swindled away illegally through online shopping scams. Threat actors have more financial incentive than ever before to commit fraud, and these losses will continue to grow.
Millennials Experience Highest Number of Fraud Reports
Millennials continue to be the most targeted demographic for identity theft and fraud. Through the second quarter of 2021, 31% of all identity theft reports have been perpetrated against people between 30 and 39 years old. This builds off a similar trend over the last few years that indicates cybercriminals have focused on this age group with increased success.
Average Losses on the Rise
The reported average loss for consumers from identity theft and fraud is $1000. That may not seem like much with big data breaches and corporate losses dominating headlines. However, for many individuals living paycheck to paycheck, a four-figure loss is severe. This average has been consistently rising, and it will continue to increase in coming years. While this statistic represents the median loss, reports of over $10,000 are nearly as common as reports in the $1000-$2000 range.
Social Media Elevates Risk of Identity Theft
Scams and threat actors lurk in the shadows of virtually every form of social media. Active social media users have a 30% greater risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Users on the most popular platforms, including Facebook (now known as “Meta”) and Instagram, show an even higher level of risk. Many individuals let their guard down while using social media, which is precisely what identity thieves are hoping for. Data breaches within social media platforms can expose your personal information, and weak passwords can lead to easy access for hackers and thieves.
Identity Thieves Do Not Discriminate
No age group or demographic is safe from identity theft. Cybercriminals continue to target seniors, children, and even the deceased. Victims over the age of 60 lost $1 billion in 2020, and school districts across the country have been the target of recent data breaches compromising the personal information of millions of minors. Identity thieves steal the personal information of 2.5 million deceased people every year and use this data to apply for loans, open new credit cards, and commit other forms of fraud. This makes it apparent that despicable characters do not discriminate, and no one can stay completely out of harm’s way when it comes to identity theft.
New Technologies Present New Problems
Every innovation seemingly comes with additional or new risk. While credit card and bank fraud remain prevalent, new technologies are posing new problems for the public. Total fraud losses associated with cryptocurrency have reached nearly $150 million through the second quarter of 2021. The rise of payment apps like Venmo, Wise, and Cash App have given thieves new avenues to steal money directly from consumers. Artificial Intelligence, voice recognition software, and other cutting-edge technological developments provide convenience and accessibility to the user. But they also provide a proving ground for new scams that often avoid easy detection.
Criminals Are Getting Smarter
Cybercriminals are evolving in developing new tactics to target specific individuals. This adaptability is on full display with a recent Javelin Strategy & Research report that shows how scammers change their approach when targeting different generations. They will use different methods of contact and specific triggers to lure a victim into divulging personal information. For example, people in the 24-40 age group are targeted through robocalls, social media, and text messages with triggers including rewards and package tracking. People aged 57-75 are contacted through robocalls with triggers including health care and social security as lures. Identity thieves are essentially utilizing effective marketing tactics to their advantage.
Your Personal Information Has Already Been Stolen
This glaring fact is sometimes difficult to understand, but it represents the truth surrounding the current prevalence of data theft. The vast majority of people have already had their personal information stolen – whether or not they are aware of that fact. Nearly 300 million people have been affected by a data breach so far in 2021 alone. Major data breaches occur on a near-daily basis, so virtually everyone is at risk.
Effects of Identity Theft Extend Beyond Monetary Losses
While financial loss is a serious concern for victims, it is not the only serious effect that identity theft creates. The psychological and emotional toll is also very real, as anyone who has dealt with a fraud incident can attest. Navigating the situation on your own can be extremely daunting, and your having restoration services in place to assist with the restoration can be a great benefit.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.