An estimated 11.7 million persons, representing five percent of all persons age 16 or older in the United States, were victims of identity theft during the two years prior to being surveyed in 2008, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced yesterday. The financial losses due to the identity theft totaled more than $17 billion.
Identity theft was defined in the survey as the attempted or successful misuse of an existing account, such as a debit or credit account, misuse of personal information to open a new account, or misuse of personal information for other fraudulent purposes, such as obtaining government benefits.
Approximately 6.2 million victims (three percent of all persons age 16 or older) experienced the unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing credit card account, the most prevalent type of identity theft. An estimated 4.4 million persons reported the misuse or attempted misuse of a banking account, such as a debit, checking or savings account.
Another 1.7 million persons experienced the fraudulent misuse of their information to open a new account, and about 618,900 persons reported the misuse of their information to commit other crimes, such as fraudulently obtaining medical care or government benefits or providing false information to law enforcement during a crime or traffic stop. About 16 percent of all victims (1.8 million persons) experienced multiple types of identity theft during the two-year period.
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