Feeds

ID theft hits 10m Americans a year

Costs billions

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A staggering 27.3 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the last five years, according to Federal Trade Commission survey out this week. In the last year alone, 9.9 million people have had their identity purloined.

Identity theft cost businesses and financial institutions nearly $48 billion and consumer victims reported $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses last year, according to the FTC.

"Identity theft is affecting millions of consumers and costing billions of dollars," said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "This information can serve to galvanize federal, state, and local law enforcers, the business community, and consumers to work together to combat this menace."

The survey was released in the wake of the formation of an industry coalition to fight online identity theft (involving leading financial services, IT and e-commerce companies) earlier this week. Microsoft Corp, eBay, Amazon.com and Visa are among founder members of the Coalition on Online Identity Theft.

Since 1998, the FTC has had an Identity Theft Program to assist victims. The organisation provides law enforcement training, maintains a nationwide database of ID theft complaints available to law enforcement and refers complaints to criminal law enforcement agencies. The FTC also maintains an identity theft web site.

A number of laws limit liability for consumer victims of identity theft. Not all costs are covered, however. The survey reviewed the different impact on victims who had existing accounts misused and those victims where the thieves opened new accounts in their names. Where the thieves opened new accounts, the per-victim dollar loss to both businesses and victims was higher and the time spent resolving the problems was greater.

For all forms of identity theft, the loss to business was $4,800 and the loss to consumers was $500, on average.

While most identity thieves use consumer personal information to make purchases, the survey reports that 15 per cent of all victims - almost 1.5 million people in the last year - reported that their personal information was misused in non-financial ways, to obtain government documents, for example, or on tax forms. The most common non-financial misuse took place when the thief used the victim's name and identifying information when stopped by law enforcement or caught committing a crime.

Sixty-seven per cent of identity theft victims - more than 6.5 million victims in the last year - report that existing credit card accounts were misused and 19 per cent reported that checking or savings accounts were misused.

The survey reports that 51 per cent of the victims - about 5 million victims - say they know how their personal information was obtained. Nearly one quarter of all victims - roughly 2.5 million people in the last year - said their information was lost or stolen, including lost or stolen credit cards, cheque books or social security cards. Stolen mail was the source of information for identity thieves in 4 percent of all victims - 400,000 in the last year.

The FTC survey summary is here. ®

Related stories

MS, eBay, Amazon et al join ID theft busters
UK.gov urged to crack down on ID theft
ID thieves rip off 7m US adults a year
US arrests 130 in Net fraud crackdown
ID theft: a $1bn a year crime
Feds break massive identity fraud
Trainee dishwasher pleads guilty to $80m identity fraud

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Apple grapple: Congress kills FBI's Cupertino crypto kybosh plan
Encryption would lead us all into a 'dark place', claim G-Men
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.