Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The 2018 Identity Fraud Study released by research-based advisory firm Javelin Strategy & Research has revealed the number of identity fraud victims increased by eight percent to 16.7 million U.S. consumers in 2017, a record high since the company began tracking identity fraud in 2003.

The study – which is in its fifteenth consecutive year and is the nation’s longest-running study of identity fraud  – found that fraudsters successfully adapted to net 1.3 million more victims in 2017 than in 2016, with the amount stolen rising to $16.8 billion in 2017 despite industry efforts to prevent identity fraud.

“2017 was a runaway year for fraudsters, and with the amount of valid information they have on consumers, their attacks are just getting more complex,” Al Pascual, senior vice president, research director, and head of fraud & security at Javelin Strategy & Research stated in a press release.

The study found most identity fraud has shifted online and away from physical stores with the adoption of EMV (embedded chip) cards and terminals. Online shopping presents the greatest fraud opportunity and is now 81 percent more likely than point of sale fraud, the greatest gap Javelin has observed.

Account Takeover (ATO) tripled in 2017, reaching a four-year high, with total ATO losses reaching $5.1 billion, a 120 percent increase from 2016. ATO victims paid an average of $290 in out-of-pocket costs and spent 16 hours on average to resolve the problem, a total of more than 62.2 million hours lost.

The study also found nearly a third of U.S. consumers – 30 percent – were notified of a data breach in the past year, up from only 12 percent in 2016. For the first time ever, Social Security numbers (SSNs) were compromised more than credit card numbers in data breaches, 35 percent to 30 percent.

The proportion of consumers concerned about fraud rose from 51 percent in 2016 to 69 percent in 2017. The study found 63 percent of consumers report that they are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned about data breaches, but many were unsure that they have the ability to effectively protect themselves.

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

More Information about Fraud

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and undergoes annual SOC 2® audits to protect consumer data.  To read more about fraud, visit

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