More than half of Americans have been, or know, a victim of identity theft. They still barely protect themselves.

Americans are confident they’ll get robbed of their identity way before someone would break into their home. But they don’t worry much about it.

They really should, according to identity theft statistics from Experian that reveals our ignorance and indifference is making it easier for cyber thieves to steal our information.

Half of Americans say they don’t think they will ever be the victim of identity theft. They feel their poor credit makes them unappealing to cyber thieves. People who earn less than $50,000 a year also feel they are less likely to be victims of identity theft.

However, the numbers show Americans should be doing more to educate themselves and protect themselves from identity theft. The threat of cyber thieves has been steadily increasing. In 2016, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported statistics of a record-setting year in data breaches, with 980 breaches and 35 million records compromised. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ last major report, “Victims of Identity Theft, 2014,” showed 18 million people were identity theft victims that year.

Most people are aware of major data breaches after reading headlines, but most of us have either forgotten about or haven’t been paying attention to, the simple and small-scale tactics that identity thieves have always relied on.

Eighty-five percent of us know about data breaches and 76 percent are aware of phishing schemes, according to Experian. Unfortunately, many don’t think of common tactics. Thieves dumpster dive, use card skimmers at ATMs and gas pumps to steal your information. They even monitor our use of computers and other electronic devices to obtain personal information.

Only 60 percent believe thieves go through trash and mail for information. Around 74 percent of us are aware that thieves skim information from ATMs.

Are we protecting ourselves?

Just about half of Americans are aware of identity theft protection. We know to monitor their bank and credit card accounts regularly, but we still don’t do all we can.

Only 18 percent are willing to use a paid credit monitoring product because we’re more likely to keep an eye on our bank and credit accounts than we are to actually go through our credit reports for errors and suspicious activity.

Most of us say it’s challenging, and would rather rely on our banks and credit card companies to monitor signs of fraud for us — but we don’t want to pay for it. We’d rather just get extra fraud alerts.

Previous research has shown that Americans repeatedly fail at protecting themselves from identity theft. Almost 60 percent don’t do something as simple as locking our mailboxes. About 21 percent never shred any personal documents before throwing them away. Over half say they have left either a purse, pay stub or laptop in their car within the last week.

“Consumers seem to be tuning out rather than tuning in,” says Michael Bruemmer, VP of identity protection at Experian. “Nothing replaces an individual’s active role in identity protection, understanding the risks, being aware, and researching what can help monitor and mitigate fraud aren’t optional these days. Unfortunately, the survey suggests consumers don’t consider these necessities a priority, which makes life easier for fraudsters.”

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of


identity theft, online banking, scams, shop online, Social Security

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Article last modified on August 30, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: We Make Identity Theft Too Easy - AMP.