Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Identity theft cases surged in New York State in 2020 as identity theft complaints surpassed 67,000 statewide during that year, more than four times the annual total from a decade earlier, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that was cited in a report from the Office of the New York State Comptroller.
The report titled “The Increasing Threat of Identity Theft” that was released in May 2021 found credit card fraud was the most frequently reported type of identity theft in New York State, with nearly 25,000 New Yorkers reporting their information had been misused on an existing credit card account or to open a new account.
In addition, more than 3,600 identity theft reports related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) were reported in New York State during 2020, with two-thirds of those related to unemployment insurance or other government benefit programs. Identity thieves also used individuals’ personally identifiable information for a variety of other purposes.
“New York State has taken numerous steps in recent years to address identity theft, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison, and to require that businesses and State agencies safeguard private personal information. But clearly, more must be done,” New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli stated in the report.
Approximately 70 percent of identity theft victims in the United States suffered financial losses, which totaled $15.1 billion in 2018, with average losses of $640 per person. New York State represented about 5 percent of identity theft reports nationwide, and costs to New Yorkers likely totaled hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Identity theft can affect a victim’s ability to get a job, rent an apartment, or obtain college loans. In some cases, thieves prey on children by using illegally obtained Social Security numbers (SSNs) for fraudulent purposes that may have damaging longer-term impacts if the crime is not discovered, according to the report.
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.
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.
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