ID or Identity Theft Statistics — Are You at Risk?

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ID theft, we'd all like to think, is something that happens to other folks, not us. The unfortunate reality, though, is that anyone and everyone can be an ID theft victim, from celebrities like Steven Spielberg and Mel Gibson to CEOs at Fortune 500 companies to ordinary folks like your neighbor down the street — and you. And denying that you're at risk only increases your risk, because your best defense against ID theft is paying close attention to your personal and financial records.

While identity theft isn't as dangerous as terrorism, it's much more likely to affect you.  Even a brief look at some ID theft statistics and facts can show you how prevalent identity theft is — and how important it is that you take the necessary steps to protect your own identity.

ID Theft Facts and Statistics

  • According to two studies done in July 2003, one by Gartner Research and the other by Harris Interactive, approximately 7-10 million people had their identities stolen in the prior 12 months. That works out to 19,178 victims per day, 799 per hour, 13.3 per minute.1
  • Identity theft victims now spend an average of 600 hours recovering from ID theft, often over a period of years, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (IRTC). Three years ago, the average recovery time spent was 175 hours.1
  • Based on 600 hours multiplied by the indicated identity theft victim's wages, this equals nearly $16,000 in lost potential or realized income.1
  • Victims spend an average of $1,400 in out-of-pocket expenses, an increase of 85% from previous studies.1
  • Law enforcement figures indicate that the average arrest rate for ID theft crimes is under 5% of all reported cases by victims.1
  • Nearly 85% of all victims find out about their Identity theft case in a negative manner (for example, being denied credit or loan applications, finding unauthorized charges on credit card accounts, etc.). Only 15% of victims find out due to a proactive action taken by a business.2
  • While victims are finding out about their cases earlier, it is taking far longer now than before to eliminate negative information from credit reports.2
  • Crimes committed after ID theft occurs include the opening of a credit card (73%) and the takeover of a card account (27%), according to respondents.2
  • Victims say the emotional impact of ID theft is comparable to the emotional impact of violent crime.2
  • In 2004, 9.3 million Americans were victims of ID theft.2
  • According to the FTC, the total U.S. annual identity fraud cost in 2004 was $52.6 billion, an increase of 2.3% from the 2003 inflation-adjusted level of $51.4 billion.2
  • Most thieves still obtain personal information through traditional rather than electronic channels. In the cases where the method was known, information was obtained off-line 68.2% of the time, while information used for ID theft was obtained via the Internet only 11.6% of the time.2
  • Conventional methods (e.g., lost or stolen wallets, misappropriation by family and friends, and theft of paper mail) are still among the most common ways thieves gain access to information that can be used to commit ID theft.2
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