Identity Theft Reported by 11.7 Million Victims According to 2008 Government Survey

 By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor

According to a press release from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), an estimated 11.7 million people were victims of identity theft during the two years prior to being surveyed in 2008, and the financial losses due to the identity theft totaled more than $17 billion.

The findings are based on the 2008 Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The ITS surveyed over 56,000 persons age 16 or older in the U.S. about the types of identity theft experienced in a two-year period.

In the survey, “identity theft” was defined as the attempted or successful misuse of an existing account, such as a debit or credit account, misuse of personal information to open a new account, or misuse of personal information for other fraudulent purposes.

Other key findings of the survey include (figures are estimates):

  • 6.2 million victims experienced the unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing credit card account, the most prevalent type of identity theft. 
  • 4.4 million victims reported the misuse or attempted misuse of a banking account, such as a debit, checking, or savings account.
  • 1.7 million victims experienced the fraudulent misuse of their information to open a new account, and
  • 618,900 victims reported the misuse of their information to commit other crimes, such as fraudulently obtaining medical care or government benefits or providing false information to law enforcement during a crime or traffic stop.
  • 16 percent of all victims experienced multiple types of identity theft during the two-year period.
  • 23 percent of all victims suffered an out-of-pocket financial loss due to the victimization, with the average out-of-pocket financial loss being $1,870.
  • 40 percent of victims had some idea about how their identifying information was obtained.

Following publication, the report – Victims of Identity Theft, 2008 (NCJ 231680) – can be found at

The story serves as a reminder of why the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of consumers used in background checks must be protected from threats like identity theft. As reported previously on ESR News, identity theft remains a threat not only to individual consumers but also employers and businesses as well since much identity theft occurs in the workplace as evidenced by the following stories:

Since much identity theft occurs at the workplace, employers should know what steps they can take to prevent identity theft. To help protect the personal information of consumers used in background checks from identity theft, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) created the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP) to be a widely recognized “seal” of approval representing a background screening organization’s commitment to excellence, accountability, and high professional standards. The Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) oversees the application process and ensures that background screening organizations seeking accreditation meet or exceed a measurable standard of competence, including protection of consumer information against identity theft.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a leading provider of background checks – has successfully proved compliance with the stringent standards of the BSAAP and is now formally recognized as NAPBS BSCC Accredited. To help prevent identity theft, background screening reports from ESR never carry a full Social Security number (SSN) or Date of Birth (DOB).  

To learn more about accreditation, read ‘Background Screening Credentialing Council Recognizes Accredited Companies’ at:

For more information on identity theft, visit the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Resource Center Applicant Resources page at

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). ESR was the third U.S. background check firm to be Safe Harbor’Certified for data privacy protection. To learn more about ESR’s Leadership, Resources, and Solutions, visit or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or