2021Identity Theft
Shattered Lock

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and its partners will host free webinars and other events during Identity Theft Awareness Week from February 1 to 5, 2021, to highlight ways to protect personal information, the warning signs of identity theft, and what to do if identity theft occurs, according to a press release from the FTC.

Among the challenges that Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought is a higher risk of identity theft. The FTC had approximately 1.4 million reports of identity theft in 2020, double the number from 2019, as identity thieves targeted government funds earmarked to help individuals and small businesses hard hit by the pandemic.

In 2020, the biggest surge in identity theft reports to the FTC was related to the dramatic and nationwide dip in employment. The FTC received 394,280 reports about government benefits fraud in 2020 – overwhelmingly about identity theft involving unemployment insurance benefits – compared with 12,900 reports in 2019.

Individuals reported identity theft in which criminals used their business or personal information to get money from government-sponsored loan programs designed to help small businesses in the pandemic. In 2020, the FTC received 99,650 reports of fraud involving business or personal loans, compared with 43,920 reports in 2019.

People also told the FTC about identity theft involving their federal stimulus payments from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by reporting it as tax identity theft. In 2020, reports to the FTC of tax identity theft rose to 89,390, from 27,450 reports in 2019. The report numbers began to swell when the distribution of the stimulus payments began.

The FTC, Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), and the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Fraud Watch Network will host several events during Identity Theft Awareness Week to talk about identity theft trends. For a complete listing of events, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/identity-theft-awareness-week.

In October 2020, the FTC – a United States government agency that is the nation’s primary privacy and data security enforcer – launched a new fraud reporting website where consumers will find a streamlined and user-friendly way to submit reports to the FTC about fraud. The new website is located at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

“With ReportFraud.ftc.gov, it’s quicker and easier than ever to share your story, and each report helps the FTC, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, fight fraud,” Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated in a press release from the FTC about the new website.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was ranked the #1 screening firm by HRO Today – is accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) and undergoes annual SOC 2® audits to prevent identity theft. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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