How Common is Identity Theft?

by Jeff Sovern

Very common.  In 2010, according to one study, seven percent of American households were victimized by identity thieves, costing them a total of about $13.3 billion, or, for those who experienced losses of at least one dollar caused by the misuse of personal information, an average loss of $13,160. See Lynn Langton, Identity Theft Reported by Households, 2005-2010 1, 5 (2011)Another study reported that identity fraud increased by 13% in 2011, harming more than 11.6 million adults.  See Javelin Strategy & Research, “Identity Fraud Survey Report,” (2012)   More consumers complain to the Federal Trade Commission about identity theft than any other consumer problem, something that has been true for each of the last dozen years.  And how many people in the US commit identity theft?  Well, this American Banker headline offers a hint: The 10,000 Identity Fraud Rings in U.S. Defy Stereotypes.

Surely it is past time to revisit the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the FACTA amendments of 2003, and reconsider what can be done to reduce the incidence of identity theft. Some suggestions can be found here.


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