Identity Theft Statistics

In order to effectively protect yourself from identity theft, you first need to understand what you are up against. Unfortunately, this crime can occur in many different ways and can never be entirely prevented. However, once you have a better understanding of how it happens, you can start taking steps to minimize your likelihood of becoming a victim.

Defining the crime

So what is identity theft? Identity theft can occur anytime your personal information is leaked, stolen or otherwise compromised, which can often happen without your knowledge. Thieves who steal your personal information usually intend to use it to commit identity fraud, although this is not always the case. Sometimes criminals will steal your information in order to sell it to other criminals, often through black market websites. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), ID theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America.*

How common is it?

The 2013 Identity Fraud Report released by Javelin Strategy & Research offers some insight into how common the crime actually is. The Fraud Report featured the following key statistics:**

  • Incidents of identity fraud increased in 2012. According to the report, the number of identity fraud incidents increased in 2012 from the previous year. In 2011, there were 11.6 million incidents and the number rose to 12.6 million in 2012. The total amount of money stolen by ID thieves also increased in 2012, reaching a whopping $20.9 billion.
  • Data breaches frequently lead to identity fraud. A data breach can occur in any number of settings. According to the Javelin report, 1 in 4 people who received a notification that their information was leaked through a data breach later became a victim of identity fraud. The report also reveals that a person who had his or her Social Security number stolen or compromised in a data breach was 5 times more likely to become a victim of fraud, compared to the average American.
  • Using public wi-fi networks may increase your risk of identity theft. According to the Javelin report, 7.4% of consumers who accessed public wi-fi hotspots over the last year became victims of fraud, compared to only 4.6% of consumers who did not access public wi-fi hotspots.

While identity theft statistics can provide a better idea of how widespread and detrimental the crime is, they paint only part of the picture. These statistics do not reflect the amount of time and emotional stress that is associated with becoming a victim.

Read through the resource pages on and learn more about how you can protect yourself from this crime.

*Social Security Administration. “Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number.” SSA Publication No. 05-10064. August 2012.

**How Consumers can Protect Against Identity Fraudsters in 2013. Javelin Strategy & Research. February 2013.