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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. The report details the number and percentage of persons age 16 or older who reported at least one incident of identity theft over the past year. It describes how the personal information was obtained, financial losses due to identity theft, victim reporting to credit bureaus and police, and the impact of identity theft on victims’ lives. The report also presents a lifetime prevalence rate for identity theft and information on the preventative actions taken to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
- About 7% of persons age 16 or older were victims of identity theft in 2012.
- The majority of identity theft incidents (85%) involved the fraudulent use of existing account information, such as credit card or bank account information.
- Victims who had personal information used to open a new account or for other fraudulent purposes were more likely than victims of existing account fraud to experience financial, credit, and relationship problems and severe emotional distress.
- About 14% of identity theft victims experienced out-of-pocket losses of $1 or more. Of these victims, about half suffered losses of less than $100.
- Over half of identity theft victims who were able to resolve any associated problems did so in a day or less; among victims who had personal information used for fraudulent purposes, 29% spent a month or more resolving problems.