Dec.23, 2021

Identity Theft: Americans Are Still Surprised When They’re a Victim of the Most Common Crime in America

A Debt.com survey reports that 39% saw their credit score drop and 14% had to take on $500 or more in debt due to the fraud.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.Dec. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Every year, 1 in 20 Americans are the victims of identity theft, making it the most common crime in the country.

Those targeted are often left with enduring costs according to a new Debt.com poll conducted for December’s National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. The study shows 4 out of 10 had negative impacts to their credit scores. A lower credit score can raise the cost of everything from insurance to loans and even hinder new employment opportunities.

“With almost half of our respondents saying thieves targeted their credit cards, you can bet that will be the most popular form of identity theft through the end of the year,” says Debt.com president Don Silvestri. “We’re emerging from the pandemic with the urge to splurge this holiday season. This makes December the perfect time to promote identity theft awareness.”

For many, factoring in the cost of identity theft can break the bank. The survey revealed the cost of identity theft:

  • 18.5% lost $0 – $50
  • 22% lost $50 – $500
  • 21% lost $500 – $1,000
  • 15% lost $1,000 – $2,500
  • 11% lost $2,500 – $5,500
  • 5% lost $5,500 to $7,000 or more

“We’ve all heard horror stories of people losing everything to these thieves, so losses in the hundreds of dollars is progress,” Silvestri says. “Part of that is lenders and creditors becoming much quicker to notice fraud so they can cut it off before it gets out of hand, but some respondents still had to actually take on debt to fix the outcome of the fraud.”  Percentages of people who had to take on debt due to identity theft:

  • 17% took up to $250 in debt
  • 17% took between $250$500
  • 14% took on $500 or more

The most common form of identity theft was with credit cards at 46%, exceeding all other forms combined. The other forms of fraud reported:

  • Bank fraud – 19%
  • Phone fraud – 7%
  • Loan fraud – 7%
  • Phishing scams – 7%
  • Tax fraud – 5

“Sixty-four percent of respondents use a credit monitoring service, either free or paid, but sadly there’s no single solution to such a huge problem,” Silvestri says. “It has to be a coordinated effort from everyone.”

Debt.com is promoting National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month by offering  online resources, from how to recognize signs of identity theft, how to protect yourself from becoming a victim to the seven steps to recover from it if you do become one.  To see all of the survey responses visit Debt.com.

About: Debt.com is the consumer website where people can find help with credit card debt, student loan debt, tax debt, credit repair, bankruptcy, and more. Debt.com works with vetted and certified providers that give the best advice and solutions for consumers ‘when life happens.’

*Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number and might not total 100 percent.