31 Surprising Identity Theft Statistics

Whether it's social media, remote work, education, or entertainment, more people are spending time online than ever. Identity thieves no longer need to dig through our garbage when we store enormous personal information treasure troves online.

We'll share some quick tips for protecting yourself from identity theft before jumping into 31 stats to help you learn just how fast identity theft is growing in the US.


31 identity theft facts to know in 2022


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Identity theft protection tips

  • Watch your bills, credit reports, personal finances, and government documents for suspicious activity.
  • Stay on top of data breach news and check your credit report often.
  • Learn about common scams and crimes.
  • Consider trying an identity theft protection service.
  • Use strong passwords on your accounts—a password manager can take the pain out of the process.
  • Use multi-factor authentication to prevent unapproved access to your online accounts.
  • Use a VPN service to conceal your presence online.
  • Don't click any suspicious links in your email—even from people you know—especially if you don't recognize the email address.
  • Keep sensitive physical documents like passports and social security cards in a home safe or safety deposit box.
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How to report identity theft

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created IdentityTheft.gov as a one-stop shop for reporting identity theft. It tells you the steps to take and includes contact information for companies, government agencies, and credit bureaus.

Number of identity theft reports

Depending on the agency or organization, there are varying estimates for the number of identity theft incidents, so we'll focus on the number of reports collected by the FTC in 2021:

       1. Americans reported 1,434,676 identity theft incidents to the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network in 2021—accounting for 25% of the approximately 7 million Sentinel reports that year.1

       2. The number of identity crime complaints was 3% higher than in 2020.1

       3. 2020 saw the largest increase year-over-year, with 1,388,540 identity theft reports coming in 2.1 times higher than the 650,523 reports in 2019.1

       4. Identity theft reports have increased every year since 2017.1

Who identity theft affects

While there appears to be a stark difference between private and public research regarding the number of people affected by ID theft, there is some correlation due to the significant increase in Sentinel reports between 2018 and 2021.

       5. Javelin Strategy & Research pegs the total number of identity theft victims in 2021 at 42 million US adults.2 This represents around 12% of the US population in 2021—nearly 332 million people.3

       6. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that around 23 million people experienced identity theft in 2018, the most recent year for the Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey—9% of the US population in 2018.4

Identity theft reports by age

Age group
2021 reports1
2020 reports5
2019 reports6
19 and under22,83323,65114,211
20–29191,334190,916110,769
30–39308,910306,090170,255
40–49266,269302,678122,752
50–59206,514244,18377,350
60–69118,093123,11244,679
70–7945,06839,00917,161
80 and over9,9179,9155,687

       7. Americans aged 30–49 filed a collective 575,179 Sentinel ID theft reports in 2021—almost double the 257,295 reports in the 50–69 age group.1

       8. In 2021, identity theft complaints decreased among Americans under the age of 19 and ages 40–69—they increased among adults aged 20–39 and over the age of 70.1, 5

       9. Americans aged 70–79 filed 16% more reports than in 2020, the most significant increase of any age group.1, 5

       10. Americans aged 50–59 filed 15% fewer reports than in 2020, the largest decrease of any age group.1, 5

       11. There were 49,854 reports of identity crime among members of the military and their families in 2021.1

       12. Over 1.25 million children in the US were ID theft victims in 2021.7

How much Americans lost to identity theft

Criminal identity theft doesn't always target your bank account—it can tank your credit score too. Here are a few estimates of the financial impact that identity theft has on consumers:

       13. Javelin says that Americans lost upwards of $52 billion to identity fraud in 2021, with an average identity theft victim losing around $1,551.2

       14. Child identity theft cost the average affected family over $1,100 in 2021.7

       15. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans lost an estimated $15.1 billion to identity theft in 2018, the most recent reporting year.4

       16. 70% of ID theft victims in the 2018 BJS study lost money—an $800 average loss per person.4

       17. On a positive note, the IRS prevented $1.9 billion in losses from fraudulent returns in 2019—a 68% decrease in losses since 2015.8

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Identity Protection PIN

As of 2021, all taxpayers can apply to the IRS for an Identity Protection PIN, which works like two-factor authentication for your tax information. Creating an IP PIN means that a thief can't file a fake return without your six-digit PIN. This is a useful tool for preventing tax identity theft.

Identity theft in US states

Although states with large populations tend to see a higher number of total reports, this doesn't mean ID theft is more prevalent. Many smaller states have higher rates of identity fraud scams.

5 states with the fewest ID theft reports in America in 2021

Rank
State
PopulationIcon Tooltip  Dark
Reports per 1,000 residentsIcon Tooltip  Dark
Total reports
1South Dakota887,1270.8673
2Montana1,070,1231.11,130
3Wyoming580,1161.1620
4Iowa3,159,5961.23,758
5Alaska733,6031.2896

       18. South Dakota had the lowest ID theft rate in 2021—76 reports per 100,000 residents.1 It has had the lowest identity theft rate in the US since 2019.1, 5, 6

       19. Wyoming saw the fewest consumer complaints at 620—29% lower than 2020.

       20. Iowa is the largest state in the top five, with just over 3.1 million residents as of 2019.9

5 states with the most ID theft reports in America in 2021

Rank
State
PopulationIcon Tooltip  Dark
Reports per 1,000 residentsIcon Tooltip  Dark
Total reports
50Rhode Island1,058,15828.630,270
49Kansas2,912,63513.539,461
48Illinois12,667,0179.2117,056
47Louisiana4,658,2857.334,043
46Georgia10,628,0206.265,666

       21. Rhode Island had the highest identity theft rate in 2021—2,857 reports per 100,000 residents.1

       22. Illinois is the largest state in the bottom five, with over 12.6 million residents as of 2019.9

       23. Texas posted the most ID theft victim reports of any state in 2021—146,095—its identity theft rate was 82% lower than Rhode Island's. It ranked eleventh-highest for identity theft.1

The main types of identity theft in 2021

Identity theft comes in all shapes and sizes, so knowing the types can help you learn what to avoid in the future. Many reports include multiple types of identity theft.

Rank
Type of ID theft1
Number of reports
1Government documents or benefits fraud395,948
2Credit card fraud389,737
3Other identity theft377,102
4Loan or lease fraud197,914
5Bank fraud124,388
6Employment or tax-related fraud111,723
7Phone or utilities fraud88,813

       24. The leading type of identity crime in 2021—and in 2020—was government documents or benefits fraud.1, 5

       25. Most government documents or benefits fraud comes from people applying for or receiving government benefits using ill-gotten personal data.1

       26. Government documents fraud is the most reported category of identity theft among Americans aged 60 and older.1

       27. Credit card fraud comes in second place but was traditionally the most common kind of ID theft before the pandemic.1

       28. The majority of credit card fraud reports stem from new accounts created in the target's name.1

       29. People between the age of 20 and 49 reported credit card fraud more often than other Americans.1

       30. Employment or tax identity theft is the top category among Americans between 50 and 59—and for people 19 and under.1

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Other identity theft

The FTC classifies the following as Other identity theft: insurance, online shopping, email and social media, securities accounts, evading the law, and medical identity theft.

       31. Around 75% of identity theft involves computers, according to the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Identity.10

Related articles on SafeWise


Sources

  1. Federal Trade Commission, "Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2021," February 2022. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  2. Javelin Strategy & Research, "Identity Fraud Losses Total $52 Billion in 2021, Impacting 42 Million U.S. Adults," March 2022. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  3. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: United States," July 2021. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  4. Erika Harrell, Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Victims of Identity Theft, 2018," April 2021. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  5. Federal Trade Commission, "Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2020," February 2021. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  6. Federal Trade Commission, "Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2019," January 2020. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  7. Javelin Strategy & Research, "Child Identity Fraud Costs Nearly $1 Billion Annually, According to a New Study from Javelin Strategy & Research," March 2022. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  8. Internal Revenue Service, "Security Summit," January 2022. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  9. Census Bureau, "National Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010-2019," December 2021. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  10. Center for Identity, University of Texas at Austin, "2019 International Identity Theft Assessment and Prediction Report," July 2019. Accessed June 7, 2022.
John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over nine years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.

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