LifeLock, Inc. and the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) have collaborated on a white paper, “The Paradox of Declining Property Crime Despite Increasing Identity Theft Crime,” in response to two reports that are leaving Americans in the dark about identity theft trends.
Challenging the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the FBI’s notion that non-violent crimes are decreasing, Lifelock and the ITRC report that when identity theft is included in non-violent crime statistics, this type of crime is not declining; rather, it is steadily, and ominously, rising.
In 2012 alone, 7% of Americans 16 or older were the victims of identity theft, to the tune of nearly $25 billion dollars. By not including identity theft in their annual report, Crime in the United States, the FBI gives the impression that non-violent crime rates, as a whole, are declining. For the FBI, property crime only includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, leaving out many of the crimes being committed by today’s criminal, including identity theft. According to the FBI, only 9 million people were victims of property crime in 2012. But nearly twice that number suffered from identity theft in the same year!
LifeLock and the ITRC both argue that the public has been given a false sense of security when property crime is reported to be decreasing. By making the public aware of the rise of identity theft, we can concentrate on the prevention and detection of this type of crime.
What You Need to Know about Identity Theft
In 2012, over 16 million American were victims of identity theft. Only 1 in 10 victims reported the incident to the police, and yet identity theft victims as a whole were more likely to find the experience “severely distressful” than victims of violent crime. While identity thieves primarily targeted individuals in households making more than $75,000 per year, nearly 2 million victims came from households making less than $25,000 per year. It is a common misconception that identity thieves only target high-income individuals.
However, LifeLock and the ITRC reported some positive trends, including an increase in identity theft prevention. More than 85% of consumers took some action to prevent identity theft, including checking credit card and bank statements, using computer security software, and perhaps, most importantly, victims started using a VPN, such as PRIVATE WiFi.
Also, while there is no such thing as good identity theft, almost half of all identity theft incidents were on existing credit card accounts, the easiest kind to fix and the least damaging kind of identity theft. Luckily, nearly half of all incidents were discovered by the victim’s financial institution, and only 14% of victims suffered out of pocket expenses.
LifeLock, the ITRC, and Identity Theft
LifeLock, Inc. is a leading provider of proactive identity theft protection services for consumers and identity risk and credit worthiness assessment services for enterprises.
The ITRC is a nationally recognized non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft.
Both companies are focused on helping consumers understand the potential risks they face and how to protect their personal information from identity theft.