Identity Theft: More Victims than Ever Before, Maybe for this Reason
A Debt.com survey shows 5% more Americans were victimized than the year before – possibly because more than half stopped using theft-protection services.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 27, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month, but most Americans are fully aware that this is the most common crime in the nation. They just don’t know what to do about it.
Debt.com’s annual identity theft poll shows the crime was even more pervasive this year than last, ticking up from 40% in 2021 to 45% in 2022. Most victims weren’t surprised when it happened to them.
Last year, 84% said they were “surprised to find out they were a target of identity theft.” This year, that plummeted to 38%.
Yet awareness didn’t equal action. Just the opposite, in fact. While more than 8 in 10 respondents said they used identity-theft protection services last year, less than 4 in 10 told Debt.com the same thing this year.
“If you stopped using or never used these services, you’re probably aware that you’re an easier target for thieves than those who avail themselves,” says Debt.com president Don Silvestri. “The real question is: Why are people giving up these services? Obviously, they feel they’re either not working or aren’t worth the money. That’s where both the private sector and the government need to focus.”
The cost of identity theft: More is less
If there was any good news from this year’s survey, it’s this: While identity theft is happening more often, it’s costing each victim less…
Money lost in 2022:
- $50 to $500 – 15%
- $500 to $1,000 – 8%
- $1,000 to $2,500 – 5%
Money lost in 2021:
- $50 to $500 – 22%
- $500 to $1,000 – 21%
- $1,000 to $2,500 – 15%
Losing less money also translates into running up less debt. So another silver lining is that fewer identity theft victims are going into debt as a result…
- $0 to $250 – 11%
- $251 to $500 – 9%
- $500 or more – 6%
- $0 to $250 – 17%
- $251 to $500 – 17%
- $500 or more – 14%
While Silvestri takes some comfort in these numbers, he’s worried that Americans are learning to live with identity theft instead of trying to eradicate it.
“With more people becoming victims but the costs of the crime dropping, it might lull us into complacency,” Silvestri says. “There’s no guarantee the costs of the crime won’t skyrocket again next year. This is a crime we need to take seriously, even though we never see the face of the perpetrators.”
About: Debt.com is a 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.