With the increasing digitalization of our lives, identity theft has become a regular threat to our everyday lives. Millions of consumers are victims of identity theft each year and there is no end in sight for that number. The FTC reports that scams and identity theft are serious problems that will only grow as time goes by. Tax season can pose a risk for those who have been victimized by this crime, this includes anything from tax fraud to account takeovers, social media hacks, or financial losses occasioned because someone else accessed your account (like when you’ve given them access).
In light of the high number of identity thefts happening since 2004, Congress cracked down on these crimes by passing a new law. The Act increased the penalty for identity theft and terrorism-related offenses, requiring courts to levy an additional 2-year sentence for general offenses and 5 years in prison for terrorism-related ones. Below discovers different identity theft crimes and the consequences for those guilty of them.
Identity Theft Crime Statistics
- There were nearly 1.4 million reported cases of ID theft in 2020, with nearly one-third of those having been victims of identity theft in the past
- Identity theft has reportedly increased by 53% from 2019 to 2020
- It is known for married women to be the most common victims of identity theft
- Identity thieves have used other people’s info to defraud state and federal government agencies out of an estimated $200-$500 billion last year
- Last year, identity theft was not typical. It struck the 30 to 39-year-old age bracket the most. Usually, in a normal year, scammers tend to target seniors and young adults more
- In 2021, there were nearly 400,000 cases of credit card fraud in the US
- “Card not present” fraud is one of the top forms of credit card fraud, and is on the up and coming in the scam world
- Credit card fraud increased by nearly 1/3 in 2020, which is over 2019’s reported 270,000 cases
- The US accounts for nearly 1/3 of the world’s credit card fraud cases, which totals $11 billion in losses for 2020 alone
- Last year, data breaches affected 155.8 million Americans, with victims who ranged from ordinary consumers to U.S. Marshals Service
Key 2022 Data & Statistics
Someone becomes a victim of identity theft every 4 seconds
The fact that there are more and more identity thieves in recent years, along with the sharp rise of attacks we’ve seen, is what has led to people calling for online data to be better protected.
33% of Americans have experienced identity theft at some point in their lives, about three times the world average and double what we see in countries like France or Germany. US users on social media are more likely to leave their information open than worldwide people, making them more vulnerable.
The deceased are not immune to identity theft. In fact, there have been more than 800,000 incidents where criminals have exploited the identities of the deceased by opening credit cards or even getting a cell phone plan. Studies also show that twice as many thieves used an unsuspecting victim’s Social Security number belonging to someone who has passed away.
Crime and Punishment Data
Punishment: Federal law allows for up to 15 years in prison for using, producing, buying, selling, or trading credit card information.
Credit card fraud is a form of identity theft. The information on the card can be used to perpetrate other types of crimes, like opening bank accounts or credit cards in someone else’s name or stealing their identity. These activities could result in serious ramifications for victims since this type of crime has the ability to ruin their lives financially and socially in addition to harming them physically.
Punishment: Schemes that involve the U.S. Postal Service can carry maximum penalties of up to 20 years.
Mail theft is a thing that happens when someone targets your mailbox and removes mail with pertinent information on it. As in dumpster diving, thieves can take credit card bills, bank statements; anything that can be used to steal your identity. At times, they will reroute the mail without our knowledge or permission by submitting a change of address to the post office.
Punishment: Federal law prohibits many forms of “computer hacking,” and has a penalty of up to 10 years for a conviction.
One way a hacker can steal personal information is by tampering with websites’ domain name systems so that URL addresses are rerouted to a fake or spoofed website created by the hacker. The victim then thinks they are on a trusted site, and enters their personal information like credit card numbers and social security numbers, which is eventually used for identity theft.