Two-Fifths of US Consumers Suffer Personal Data Theft

Some 40% of US consumers have had their personal information stolen, compromised or misused in the past year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).

The non-profit polled 1371 consumers to ask about their experiences in order to compile its 2022 Consumer Impact Report.

The study revealed that although the number of repeat identity crime victims dropped year-on-year, half still confirmed that they had been victimized more than once.

They also appear to be suffering more complex attacks: the percentage of unresolved cases surged from 35% to 55% between 2020 and 2021.

Social media account takeovers have soared 1000% year-on-year, with half (51%) of victims losing personal funds or sales revenue when compromised. Most common was an Instagram account hijack (85%), with a quarter (25%) pointing to Facebook compromise.

While victims are losing less money overall today, with most falling in the “under $500” category, those losing over $10,000 accounted for nearly a third (30%) of the total, up from just 9% in 2020.

The impact of these incidents though is becoming more acute. The number of victims who reported experiencing negative emotions increased from 79% in 2020 to 87% in 2021, while the number reporting physical effects jumped from 44% to 68% over the same period.

Physical problems include sleeping disorders, stress, persistent aches and pains, changes in eating and drinking habits, and new unhealthy or addictive behaviors.

Fortunately, most (79%) respondents said they have changed their habits to minimize risk going forward, virtually the same (81%) as a year previous.

This includes putting a security or credit freeze on credit reports, regularly checking credit reports, putting a PIN/password on their mobile device, using identity monitoring services, and shredding documents.

ITRC president and CEO, Eva Velasquez described some of the victim reports processed by the non-profit as “heartbreaking” and vowed to do more to help.

“One victim told us their life was ruined after discovering that someone stole more than $200,000 in their name,” she said. “Another victim expressed their frustration that no one appeared to 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.”

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