Study Finds Identity Theft Reached Record High 15.4 Million Victims in 2016


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The 2017 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research has revealed that the number of identity theft victims increased 16% to reach 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016 – the highest number since Javelin began tracking fraud in 2003 – and that the amount of money taken rose by nearly one billion dollars to $16 billion.

“After five years of relatively small growth or even decreases in fraud, this year’s findings drives home that fraudsters never rest and when one areas is closed, they adapt and find new approaches,” Al Pascual, senior vice president, research director, and head of fraud & security, Javelin Strategy & Research, stated in a press release.

The study also found there were two million more identity theft victims in 2016. On a positive note, while fraudsters were better at evading detection, consumers with an online presence were getting better at detecting fraud quicker which led to less stolen overall per attempt. The 2017 Identity Fraud Study uncovered four significant trends:

  • Fraud leaps to a record high incidence: In 2016, 6.15 percent of consumers became victims of identity theft, an increase by almost 2 million victims from the previous year. The incidence rate jumped by 16 percent from 2015, the highest incidence since Javelin began tracking identity fraud.
  • Card-not-present (CNP) fraud rises significantly: Driven by closing opportunities for point-of-sale fraud and the growth of e- and m-commerce, fraudsters are increasingly moving online, dramatically increasing the prevalence of CNP fraud by 40 percent.
  • Account takeover (ATO) bounces back: After reaching a low point in 2014, both account takeover incidence and losses rose notably in 2016. Total ATO losses reached $2.3 billion, a 61 percent increase from 2015, while incidence rose 31 percent.
  • New-account fraud (NAF) continues unabated: As Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) cards and terminals continue to permeate the U.S. Point-of-Sale (POS) environment, fraudsters shift to fraudulently opening accounts that allow them.

According to Javelin, identity theft and fraud is defined as the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to achieve illicit financial gain. Identity theft and fraud can range from simply using a stolen payment card account, to making a fraudulent purchase, to taking control of existing accounts or opening new accounts.

In 2016, Javelin conducted a survey of 5,028 U.S. consumers to assess the impact of identity theft and fraud, uncover where fraudsters are making progress, explore the actions and behaviors of consumers and how they relate to identity theft and fraud risk levels, and identify segments of consumers most affected by identity theft and fraud.

The annual comprehensive analysis of identity theft and fraud trends – independently produced by Javelin Strategy & Research and made possible by LifeLock, Inc. – is the nation’s longest-running study of identity fraud with 69,000 respondents surveyed since 2003. To learn more, visit

Identity theft is a major problem. As reported earlier by ESR News, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is hosting Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week from January 30, 2017, to February 3, 2017, to teach consumers how to minimize tax identity theft. Learn more at

More Information about Identity Theft from ESR

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