Nearly 40% of Victims’ Personal Information Was Stolen, Compromised or Misused in the Past Year
By Roy Urrico
Finopotamus aims to highlight white papers, research, surveys and reports that provide a glimpse as to what is taking place and/or impacting credit unions and other organizations in the financial services industry.
About 40% of consumers revealed their personal information was stolen, compromised or misused in the past year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2022 “Consumer Impact Report,” which the organization said “goes beyond the known financial implications of identity crimes and explores the lost opportunities as well as the emotional, physical and psychological impacts experienced by victims resulting from the crimes.”
The El Cajon, Calif.-based ITRC, a national nonprofit organization established to support victims of identity crime, in its latest “Consumer Impact Report,” analyzed the responses of 120 victims who contacted the ITRC between April 2021 and March 2022. However, unlike previous “Consumer Impact Reports” dating back to 2003, which the organization said only reflected the experience of victims who contacted the ITRC, this year’s survey also reached out to victims who did not contact the center.
The ITRC asked 1,371 consumers in an online survey whether they were victims of an identity crime and, if so, how it impacted them. Respondents from this broader set of self-identified victims answered similar questions asked of victims who contacted the ITRC. Both groups showed significant differences and common experiences.
“Some of the comments in the report are heartbreaking,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the ITRC. “One victim told us their life was ruined after discovering that someone stole more than $200,000 in their name. Another victim expressed their frustration that no one appeared to care. However, at the ITRC, we do care. This report further energizes us to spearhead our mission of supporting consumers through what may be one of the most difficult experiences of their life.”
Taking the Consumer Pulse Regarding Identity Crimes
In 2021, the ITRC responded to 14,947 requests for direct assistance from a record high number of individual consumers. More than 7,412 were victims of identity scams and another 4,168 were victims of identity misuse as a result of personal information compromises.
According to the report, numerous studies by government agencies and private organizations focus on the financial impacts of identity-related crimes, but the ITRC’s latest “Consumer Impact Report” gauged the emotional, physical, and practical effects on the day-to-day lives.
The report also revealed the number of repeat identity crime victims dropped year-over-year among ITRC victims. However, half of the general victims surveyed suffered multiple ID thefts. Also, ITRC victims experienced more complex attacks requiring longer times to resolve. Plus, the percentage of “unresolved cases from the previous year” grew from 37% to 55% since 2020.
Perhaps more worrying after years of preferring to take over existing financial accounts, identity criminals are opening new credit union, bank and credit accounts by impersonating consumers using information stolen in data breaches or coaxed out of individuals in phishing attacks.
Some other key takeaways include:
· Overall, identity crime victims are losing less money but that is not the case for everyone. Most ITRC victims and general victims report losing less than $500. However, one group of ITRC victims grew from 9% in 2020 to 30% in 2021 – those victims who lost $10,000 or more.
· The number of ITRC victims who reported experiencing negative emotions increased in 2021 to 87% from 79% in the previous year, while the number of ITRC victims who reported physical impacts jumped from 44% to 68% in one year. Two-thirds of identity crime victim victims reported emotional and physical effects.
· The number of ITRC victims who changed behaviors due to an identity crime dropped slightly overall. More victims reported freezing their credit and using an Identity Protection PIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when filing taxes.
Social Account Takeovers
During the time period covered by this report, new forms of identity attacks emerged. Social media account takeovers, for example, grew by more than 1,000% in just one year with one specific attack targeting Google Voice users.
The ITRC’s “Consumer Impact Report” included the results of a snap survey of 97 victims who reported a social media account takeover. Of the victims who responded to the micro-survey:
· Eighty-five percent had Instagram accounts compromised.
· Twenty-five percent had Facebook account compromised.
· Forty-eight percent clicked on a link they believed was from a friend.
· Twenty-two percent responded to a cryptocurrency scam.
· Fifty-one percent of victims lost personal funds or sales revenue due to a compromise.
· Seventy percent were permanently locked out of their social media account.
· Seventy-one percent had friends listed in the account contacted.
· Sixty-seven percent reported the cybercriminal continued to post as the account owner after the lockout.
· Sixty-six percent of victims reported having a strong emotional reaction to losing control of their account, including feeling violated (92%), feeling worried or anxious (83%), angry (78%), vulnerable (77%) and suicidal (7%).