6 Terrifying Facts About Identity Theft

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Identity Theft Is More Common Than You Think

The Federal Trade Commission has a branch called the Consumer Sentinel Network, that collects complaints about fraud and identity theft from the FTC, the FBI, the Secret Service, and a host of other government entities. They compile those into a huge document every year, detailing how many complaints they receive directly, and how many cases there are in general. The results are staggering.

In 2015, there was a total of 490,220 identity theft complaints made. In previous years, the most commonly reported types of identity theft had to do with government documents/benefits fraud, followed by credit card fraud. But in 2015, tax- and wage-related fraud increased to make up 45% of all identity theft complaints. (We'll talk more about tax-related identity theft on the next page.) All in all, identity theft affected 17.6 million people in 2014 and seems to consistently affect around 7% of American households every year.

 

Beyond that, more than a quarter of all Americans have been victims of credit/debit card fraud specifically. (That astronomical percentage is partially due to security weaknesses unique to American credit and debit cards, and we will also talk more about that on a later page.) And while most people report resolving the matter in a fairly satisfactory way, an "unsatisfactory" resolution can be pretty catastrophic when the issue is your credit card information.