Research and Statistics

The ITAC database of identity theft cases is a valuable resource for those seeking a greater understanding of the causes and consequences of identity theft. ITAC periodically conducts surveys of identity theft victims and shares information with policymakers, academics, and journalists. ITAC partners with academia on projects related to fraud and identity theft.

2012 Child Identity Fraud Report

Little is known about the true scope of child identity theft. Child advocates, regulators, financial services and other professionals agree it is a particularly damaging crime that can go undetected for years, only to be discovered when the victim applies for a student loan or credit card.

As an industry leader on identity theft and fraud solutions, ITAC sponsored Javelin Strategy & Research to conduct the 2012 Child Identity Fraud Report to determine the frequency, sources and consequences of child identity theft. With facts in hand, ITAC and the financial services industry, are committed to finding solutions for child identity theft prevention and resolution.
For a copy of the full Report, contact


  • A Social Security Number Is the Top Compromised Identifier.
    Consistent with industry experience, and with the experience of adult identity fraud victims, the study shows that Social Security numbers are the most commonly used piece of information by identity thieves targeting children. In fact, 56% of respondents reported theft or misuse of a child's SSN.
  • One in 40 Respondents Had a Child Who Was a Victim of ID Fraud. The study found that 2.5 percent of U.S. households with children under age 18 experienced child identity fraud at some point during their child's lifetime. This equates to one in 40 households with minor children being affected by this crime. Child identity fraud may be underreported by family members who may be linked to the fraud, as well as households in which individuals do not discover that they have been victims of childhood ID fraud until after they are 18 years old.
  • Victimization Frequently Occurs Close to Home by Family or Friends.
    Friendly fraud is to blame in many child ID theft cases. The data shows that 27 percent of respondents reported knowing the individual responsible for the crime.
  • Lower Income Families Disproportionately Affected by Child ID Fraud.
    According to the findings, as family income decreases, the risk of child identity fraud increases. While 50 percent of households of child identity theft victims had incomes under $35,000, only ten percent of households of child identity theft victims had incomes of more than $100,000.
  • Child Identity Fraud more Difficult to Detect and Resolve than Adult ID Fraud.
    The survey showed that these crimes took 334 days to detect and 44 hours to resolve, and 17 percent of children were victimized for a year or longer. These statistics indicate that child identity fraud is both more difficult to detect, and more difficult to resolve, than adult identity fraud.


More Than 12 Million Identity Fraud Victims in 2012 According to Latest Javelin Strategy & Research Report

The 2013 Identity Fraud Report released in February 2013 by Javelin Strategy & Research reports that in 2012 identity fraud incidents increased by more than one million victims and fraudsters stole more than $21 billion, the highest amount since 2009. The study found 12.6 million victims of identity fraud in the United States in the past year, which equates to 1 victim every 3 seconds. The report also found that nearly 1 in 4 data breach letter recipients became a victim of identity fraud, with breaches involving Social Security numbers to be the most damaging. Over the past year, companies are responding more quickly which means a consumer’s information is being misused for fewer days than ever before, and the mean cost per victim has been flattening.

Now in its tenth consecutive year, the comprehensive analysis of identity fraud trends is independently produced by Javelin Strategy & Research, and made possible by Citi and Intersections Inc., companies dedicated to consumer fraud prevention and education. It is the nation’s longest-running study of identity fraud, with 48,200 respondents surveyed over the past 10 years.
Identity fraud is defined as the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to achieve illicit financial gain. Identity fraud can range from simply using a stolen payment card account, to making a fraudulent purchase, to taking control of existing accounts or opening new accounts, including mobile phone or utility services. In October 2012, Javelin Strategy & Research conducted an address-based survey of 5,249 U.S. consumers to identify important findings about the impact of fraud, uncover areas of progress and identify areas in which consumers must exercise continued vigilance.

“This past year was one where there were both successes and setbacks for consumers, institutions and fraudsters,” said Jim Van Dyke, CEO of Javelin Strategy & Research. “Consumers and institutions are now starting to act as partners—detecting and stopping fraud faster than ever before. But fraudsters are acting quicker than ever before and victimizing more consumers. Consumers must take data breach notifications more seriously and maintain vigilance to safeguard personal information, especially Social Security numbers.”

Key Findings

The study found several significant identity fraud trends:

  • Identity fraud incidents and amount stolen increased. The number of identity fraud incidents increased by one million more consumers over the past year, and the dollar amount stolen increased to $21 billion, a three-year high but still significantly lower than the all-time high of $47 billion in 2004. This equates to 1 incident of identity fraud every 3 seconds.
  • 1 in 4 data breach notification recipients became a victim of identity fraud. This year, almost 1 in 4 consumers that received a data breach letter became a victim of identity fraud, which is the highest rate since 2010. This underscores the need for consumers to take all notifications seriously. Not all breaches are created equal. The study found consumers who had their Social Security number compromised in a data breach were 5 times more likely to be a fraud victim than an average consumer.
  • Fraudsters misuse information fewer days than before. Consumer information was misused for an average of 48 days in 2012, down from 55 days in 2011 and 95 days in 2010. Misuse time was down for all types of fraud including fraud on cards, loans, bank accounts, mobile phone bills and other types of fraud due to consumer and industry action. More than 50 percent of victims were actively detecting fraud using financial alerts, credit monitoring or identity protection services and by monitoring their accounts.
  • Small retailers are losing out. Fraud victims are more selective where they shop after an incident, and small businesses were the most dramatically impacted. The study found that 15 percent of all fraud victims decided to change behaviors and avoid smaller online merchants. This is a much greater percentage than those that avoid gaming sites or larger retailers.
  • Understanding the Findings
    Fraud incidents and the amount stolen continued its upward trend. Approximately one million more adults were victimized by identity fraud in 2012, compared to 2011. This is the second highest number of victims since the study started.
    Data breaches continued to play a significant role in identity fraud. Organizations alert their customers when their information was compromised and sent a letter (i.e. “data breach letter”). Receiving this letter does not define a consumer as a victim of fraud. Yet the survey found 1 in 4 data breach notification recipients became a victim of identity fraud in 2012, compared to less than 1 in 5 in 2011.

The personal information lost in data breaches are frequently used to commit fraud. While credit card numbers remain the most popular item revealed in a data breach, in reality other information can be more useful to fraudsters. Personal information such as online banking login, user name and password were compromised in 10 percent of incidents and 16 percent of incidents included Social Security numbers. Recipients need to take data breach letters seriously and protect themselves by enrolling in identity protection services and taking other steps.

It’s not just online fraud or data breaches. More than 1.5 million consumers were victims of familiar fraud, which is fraud when victims know the fraudster. Lower income consumers were more likely to be victims of familiar fraud. The information most likely to be taken via familiar fraud includes name, Social Security number, address and checking account numbers.

Encouragingly, consumers, financial institutions and identity protection services are working closely together and that is having a positive impact. In 33 percent of cases, consumers were notified of the fraud by a bank or card issuer. Email and other proactive alerts can help consumers discover and stop identity fraud more quickly. Consumers must retain vigilance as 50 percent found the fraud themselves by monitoring their bank accounts, statements, credit scores and purchasing identity protection services. When reported in a timely manner, costs can be kept down.


Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Victims of Identity Theft, 2008 Report

Report highlights include the following:

  • An estimated 11.7 million persons, representing 5% of all persons age 16 or older in the United States, experienced at least one type of identity theft in a 2-year period.
  • Although the total financial cost of identity theft was nearly $17.3 billion over a 2-year period, less than a quarter (23%) of identity theft victims suffered an out-of-pocket financial loss from the victimization.
  • About 42% of victims spent 1 day or less working to resolve the financial and credit problems associated with the identity theft; however, 3% continued to experience problems related to the theft more than 6 months after discovering it.

Download Report >>


ITAC Victim Survey Says.....

Nearly Two out of three ID theft victims do not know source of crime, according to Identity theft assistance center survey A survey of more than 1,500 identity theft victims shows that approximately three out of four, or 72%, do not know the source of the crime, according to ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center.

“Your best bet is to treat your personal information as you do your personal safety – like buckling your seat belt. Keep data in your home and workplace in a secure location, keep your anti-virus software, browser and operating system updated, and monitor your accounts online for unusual activity.” -Anne Wallace President of ITAC

“We may see these anonymous sources grow since criminals use stolen consumer data as currency and are becoming more targeted and organized,” said Michael Stanfield, chairman and CEO of Intersections Inc., a leading global provider of consumer and corporate identity risk management services. Of the 1,530 victims helped by ITAC, twenty-eight percent said they knew the source of the crime.

  • Followed by computer-related identity crime (21.6%).
  • Lost/stolen wallet, checkbook or credit card accounts for 15.1%
  • Corrupt businesses or employees also at (11.6%)
  • And breaches of consumer data accounted for 4.7% of the cases



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Copyright © 2013    ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, is the national advocate for identity theft victims and a leading voice on identity policy. Millions of consumers have access to the ITAC victim assistance service through our members - the financial services companies who support ITAC and offer it as a free service for their customers. ITAC is dedicated to protecting all consumers through education, research and the criminal prosecution of identity crime.