Identity theft is defined as the unauthorized use or attempted use of existing accounts, or the unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account or for other fraudulent purposes. This report details the numbers and percentages of individuals age 16 or older who reported at least one incident of identity theft during 2012. It describes how the personal information was obtained, financial losses, victim reporting to credit bureaus and police, and the impact of identity theft on victims' lives.
In 2012 approximately 7 percent of persons over the age of 16 were victims of identity theft. Eight-five percent of the incidents involved the fraudulent use of existing account information, such as credit card or bank account numbers. Victims who had personal information used for fraudulent purposes were more likely than victims of existing account fraud to suffer financial, credit, relationship, and emotional problems. About 14 percent of identity theft victims experienced out-of-pocket losses of $1.00 or more. Of those victims, 50 percent suffered losses of less than $100.00. Half of the identity theft victims who were able to resolve any associated problems did so in a day or less. Twenty-nine percent of victims who had personal information used for fraudulent purposes spent a month or more resolving problems.
Additional information can be found at the Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4821, December 12, 2013, NCJ 243779.