Identity Theft Victimized 17.6 Million People in 2014

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

An estimated 17.6 million people in the United States – or about 7 percent of U.S. residents age 16 or older – were victims of at least one incident of identity theft in 2014, according to the report Victims of Identity Theft, 2014 from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

The report from the BJS found that the majority of identity theft victims in 2014 – about 86 percent or 16.4 million people – experienced the unauthorized fraudulent misuse or attempted misuse of an existing account information such as credit card or bank account information.

The report found that identity theft victims may have experienced multiple types of identity theft:

  • 8.6 million identity theft victims experienced the fraudulent use of a credit card.
  • 8.1 million identity theft victims experienced the unauthorized or attempted use of existing bank accounts such as checking or savings accounts.
  • 1.5 million identity theft victims experienced other types of existing account theft such as misuse or attempted misuse of an existing telephone, online, or insurance account.

Other key findings of the BJS report Victims of Identity Theft, 2014 include:

  • In 2014, 85 percent of people took actions to prevent identity theft such as checking credit reports, shredding documents with personal information, and changing passwords.
  • The number of identity theft victims age 65 or older increased to 2.6 million in 2014, up from 2.1 million in 2012.
  • More females were victims of identity theft than males in 2014, 9.2 million to 8.3 million.
  • People in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more had the highest prevalence of identity theft at 11 percent compared all other income brackets.
  • In 2014, 45 percent or identity theft victims discovered the incident when a financial institution contacted them about suspicious activity while 18 percent discovered the identity theft when they noticed fraudulent charges on an account.
  • The majority of identity theft victims did not know how the offender obtained their information and 9 in 10 identity theft victims did not know anything about the offender.
  • Two-thirds of identity theft victims reported a direct financial loss.

The report defines identity theft as the attempted or successful misuse of an existing account such as a debit or credit card account, the misuse of personal information to open a new account, or the misuse of personal information for other fraudulent purposes on persons age 16 or older.

The Victims of Identity Theft, 2014 report used data from the 2014 Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The complete report written by BJS Statistician Erika Harrell, Ph.D., is available at www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit14.pdf.

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