Infographic: Identity fraud victims at record high

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


With each successful fraud, identity thieves have been getting less and less bang for their buck over the past four years. But in 2016, identity thieves found ways to defraud 2.3 million more Americans than in 2015, raising overall losses for the first time since 2012.

In the 2017 installment of its annual identity fraud report, Javelin Strategy & Research found that the number of U.S. identity fraud victims increased 17.6 percent, from 13.1 million Americans in 2015 to 15.4 million last year. The 2016 figure represents 6.15 percent of U.S. consumers, and is the highest number of identity fraud victims registered by Javelin since it started tracking the metric in 2003.

True, the amount thieves are netting per fraud dropped to $1,039, having declined for four consecutive years since it averaged $1,730 in 2012. But with the 2016 surge in the number of victims, the total losses rose to $16 billion, up from $15.3 billion after three years of decreases from 2012 to 2015.

The lower loss per victim is not simply a result of tighter security measures aimed at thwarting fraud. It’s also a byproduct of Americans being more digitally connected, as consumers with an online presence are getting better at detecting fraud more quickly, leading to less stolen overall per attempt.

Still, the advent of chip cards has driven fraudsters to up their game in online identity theft, existing account takeovers and new accounts fraud. Indeed, fraud among card-not-present transactions was up 40 percent over 2015, and account takeovers were up 31 percent. Meanwhile, in-store fraud has seen virtually no growth over the past two years.

Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2017 Identity Fraud Study was based on an address-based survey of over 5,000 U.S. consumers. The results were released Feb. 1.


See related: As online fraud spikes, here’s how to safeguard your accounts, More infographics

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Updated: 02-17-2019