ID theft


An unwelcome side effect of living in a high-tech cyber world, ID theft is one of the few crimes that's on the rise these days.

Some stats - mostly from the Federal Trade Commission - on how bad (or not bad) ID theft has gotten.


Although ID theft means different things to different people (and different statisticians), the FTC (pdf) breaks ID theft into three categories:

  • "New Accounts and Other Frauds' ID Theft": Basically, using someone else's ID to open a credit card, take out a loan, get medical care, rent apartment or commit a crime.

  • "Misuse of Personal Accounts": your identity is safe, but your cash is gone - including from credit card and bank accounts.

Number of cases a year

In 2003, according to the FTC, 10 million Americans (4.6% of adults) experienced some kind of identity theft, including:

  • 3.25 million cases of personal info used to open an account, and

  • 6.75 million cases of other misuses of personal accounts:

In 2005, according to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research, the number of ID thefts dropped to 3.7% of American adults.

Note: The Department of Justice's numbers differ, putting the number of ID theft cases in 2004 at just 1.1 million cases. DOJ

Costs of ID theft:


  • Total: $36.7 billion;

  • For businesses: $32.9 billion (average of $10,200 a case);

  • For individuals: $3.8 billion (average of $1180 a case).

Costs of other misuses of personal accounts:


  • Total: $52.6 billion;

  • For businesses: $47.6 billion (average of $2100 a case);

  • For individuals: $5 billion (average of $160 a case).

Time it takes victims to correct:


  • ID theft: 60 hours;

  • Other account misuses: 15 hours.

Who's doing the thieving:


  • someone the victim knows: 26% of cases

  • computer hacker: 2% of cases

Other resources

Updated February 11, 2007

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