What General And Computer Identity Theft Statistics Can Teach Us

General and computer identity theft statistics point to how identities are being stolen, and how to avoid becoming a victim.

In fact, statistics can show us exactly where we are vulnerable and can also point to the solutions that will guard privacy and keep us safe from ID fraud.

Identity theft is growing at an alarming rate. According to the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S., over 27 million people have been victimized in the past 5 years alone. That's 1 out of every 10 Americans.

The most common way that a thief steals our identity is by stealing our mail or going through our trash. This is followed by fraudulently obtained credit reports, then old-fashioned theft, and finally computer or Internet theft.

We'll look at what identity theft statistics show us in 4 areas...

  1. Who commits the crimes?
  2. Complaints statistics
  3. Key statistics
  4. Computer identity theft

1. General And Computer Identity Theft Statistics... Who Commits The Crimes?

An identity theft statistics study by the Identity Theft Resource Center, shows that the majority of identity theft criminals are repeat offenders. Other convictions include substance abuse, narcotic trafficking, violent crime, robbery and immigration issues.

There are proven links between identity fraud and organized crime. Identity fraud is not exclusive to one particular type of criminal activity and cuts across most criminal sectors, including,

  • Illegal immigration
  • Drug trafficking
  • Money laundering
  • Vehicle theft
  • Fraud against the public & private sector
The average arrest rate for identity theft is under 5% of all reported cases.

2. General And Computer Identity Theft Statistics For Complaints

Identity theft takes many forms. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported the main complaints of identity theft as a percentage of the total as...

  • credit card fraud (28%)
  • phone or utilities fraud (19%)
  • bank fraud (18%)
  • employment fraud (13%)

3. General And Computer Identity Theft Statistics... Key Statistics

  • $52.6 billion - The total cost of identity theft in the U.S.
  • $5,686 - The average theft per victim.
  • $1,400 - The average amount of money it takes a person to clear their name after identity theft has taken place.
  • 85% - The percentage of people that find out about identity theft through an adverse action such as a loan or employment denial.
  • 15% - The percentage of people that find out about identity theft through a positive action, such as a routine credit report or from a company verifying information before extending credit.
  • 9 million - Estimated amount of people whose identities will be stolen this year.
  • 600 hours - The amount of work hours it takes to fix problems arising from identity theft.
  • 10 years - The amount of time that identity theft can adversely affect credit.

4. General And Computer Identity Theft Statistics... Computer Identity Theft

Computer identity theft statistics can be based upon two means of theft...

  1. There is the criminal who recovers personal data for the purpose of identity theft from stolen, second-hand or dumped computers.

    Second hand or dumped computers usually have data remaining on, or recoverable from, their hard drives. Even banks have been known to sell on computers with hard disks still retaining customer's details.

  2. The second type of computer identity theft -- also known as Internet identity theft -- occurs when a victim has their personal data stolen via their computer. This can be by responding to a phishing or pharming dupe (see later), their computer being hacked/cracked, or spyware that has unknowingly been downloaded to the victim's computer secretly gathering personal information.
Let's take a look at some of the statistics surrounding these two types of theft...

I. Data Recovered From Computers

If you've any doubt about the repercussions of data stolen or recovered from a computer, just consider this incident in May 2006, when around 26.5 million military veterans were placed at risk of identity theft. Intruders stole an electronic data file containing their names, birth dates and Social Security numbers.

The theft represents the biggest unauthorized disclosure ever of personal Social Security data, and could make affected veterans vulnerable to credit card fraud if the burglars realize the value of their haul.

If you consider these two computer identity theft statistics, you'll perhaps feel the need to take extra care of your desktop and, particularly, your laptop...

  1. Safeware Insurance statistics shows if you own a laptop you have a 1 in 14 chance it will be stolen... that's one computer theft every 53 seconds.
  2. The FBI reports that 97% of stolen computers are never recovered.

II. Internet Identity Theft

According to the latest computer identity theft statistics, the majority of people are more vulnerable to Internet identity theft than they are to any other type of ID theft... simply because they are not confident enough to guard privacy or their online security.

The Javelin Identity Fraud Survey Report showed that computer crimes accounted for just 11.6 percent of all known-cause identity fraud. Half of these digitally-driven crimes stem from spyware and the other half from phishing and pharming techniques.

Let's take a closer look at phishing and pharming...


A recent survey by the Federal Trade Commission to gather the latest computer identity theft statistics, showed that an increasing number of people are vulnerable to a tactic called phishing. Phishing is a lure tactic used by identity thieves to trick us into entering personal information into a bogus Website.

According to the computer identity theft statistics gathered from the survey, more than 30% of Internet users polled admitted to being tricked by a phishing scheme.

Gartner also reports that...

  • 57 million Americans are sure that they have received email attacks from phishers
  • 11 million have clicked on the link in the email
  • 1.78 million (3 percent) recall disclosing sensitive financial or personal information
  • Of those, 980,000 were actually scammed
  • There is a yearly loss of 1.2 billion dollars,

For more information on phishing, see Phishing And How To Block It


Statistics tracking pharming occurrences aren't yet available. However, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) has deemed the potential problem serious enough that it has included pharming in the types of Internet scams and fraud the group aims to prevent.

For further information covering all aspects of identity theft, have a look at the following articles...

5. General and Computer Identity Theft Statistics... Supporting Articles


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