Consumer ID theft drops but problems persist

The number of identity theft incidences dropped in 2018 but the problem still persists for millions of consumers. According to Javelin Strategy & Research in its 2019 Identity Fraud Study, the number of people who fell victim to identity theft fraud fell from 16.7 million in 2017 to 14.4 million in 2018. That’s the good news. The bad news is criminals aren’t giving up and problems continue to persist.

Criminals are increasing the number of new accounts

Identity thieves are beginning to shift the ways they commit fraud against consumers. Thanks to embedded chips in credit cards, this type of consumer theft has decreased significantly. Unfortunately, thieves have shifted their attention to finding new ways to exploit consumers, spending their efforts opening new accounts in victim names, joining loyalty and rewards programs, or targeting their victims’ retirement accounts. They’ve also gotten very skilled at bypassing authentication processes and taking over mobile phones. Considering projections show 72.6% of consumers will be using phones to access the internet by 2025, this is significant.

Identity theft victims bear bigger financial burdens

New scams and circumventing protections have led to consumers feeling a heavier financial hit to their pocketbooks. While the number of victims occurring last year decreased significantly, the millions of people who were the unfortunate victims suffered a heavier financial burden then they have in previous years. According to Javelin’s study, 3.3 million consumers bore some of the financial responsibility for the crimes committed against them. Their findings also uncovered the number of victims in 2018 not reimbursed for out of pocket expenses related to their identity thefts was three times as many when compared to these statistics for 2016.

Victims spend hours fixing the damage

To add insult to injury, ID theft victims are also spending more time trying to fix the headaches caused by thieves. LifeLock reports consumers spend, on average, seven hours trying to clean up the mess. However, in extreme cases, this can take up to a whopping 1,200 hours! This doesn’t take into account the fact victimized consumers will also have to spend time rebuilding their credit scores and reversing the damage caused by ID thieves.

Identity verification and protection are arguably the two most important factors for consumers’ economic viability and security. As recent statistics show, the number of identity thefts occurring each year is on the decline, which on the surface, indicates consumers are winning the battle. However, other statistics show thieves are not going to give up so easily. Instead, they will be actively finding new ways to exploit their victims. It’s going to be more important than ever for consumers to be vigilant about monitoring their accounts.

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft and/or otherwise need to fix your credit standing, PRBC can help. Our alternative credit score enables consumers to rebuild their credit by paying their usual monthly expenses, such as utility or phone bills. To learn more about how our alternative credit score process works, contact us today.

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