Identity Fraud Losses Total $52 Billion in 2021, Impacting 42 Million U.S. Adults
Fraud landscape shifts dramatically as criminals increasingly highjack victims’ online lives according to 2022 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research
San Francisco, CA — March 29, 2022 A new study shows that traditional identity fraud losses, caused by criminals illegally using victims’ information to steal money, exploded in 2021 to $24 billion (USD)—an alarming 79% increase over 2020. Further, the number of adults in the United States impacted by traditional identity fraud grew more than 50%, reaching more than 15 million victims.
These findings are from The Virtual Battleground, the 2022 edition of Javelin Strategy & Research’s annual identity fraud study. Javelin, part of the Escalent family, helps its clients make informed decisions in a digital financial world. The study’s Platinum sponsors include AARP, Equifax, FIS and Iris Powered by Generali (“Iris”). Silver sponsors of the report include BioCatch and Neustar, joined by Bronze sponsors Experian and TransUnion.
The study also found that losses from identity fraud scams, in which a fraud operator influences a victim to divulge or expose their personal information, added another $28 billion in impact victimizing an additional 27 million U.S. adults. Taken together, identity fraud losses totaled $52 billion and affected 42 million U.S. adults.
“Criminals reverted to pre-pandemic tactics in 2021 by focusing on virtual attack vectors such as bots, malware and a variety of identity fraud scams,” said John Buzzard, Javelin’s lead fraud and security analyst and author of the report. “Further, the 2021 data has shown criminals will change strategies to evade detection and maximize the amount of information they can extract from victims.”
The study, now in its 19th year, uncovered major shifts in the way criminals defrauded victims in 2021. Among the trends observed were huge increases to account takeover fraud and new account fraud in which fraud operators deployed multiple tactics to steal victims’ personal information to drain them of billions of dollars. The findings include:
- New account fraud increased 109% enabling criminals in possession of consumer information to, at times, open multiple unauthorized accounts ranging from merchant accounts to credit cards.
- Account takeover losses increased 90% as criminals highjacked victims’ online lives.
- Fraud affecting existing credit cards rose 69%, while fraud on existing non-card accounts, including checking, savings, insurance or utilities, jumped 73%.
The individual impact of identity fraud grew more severe in 2021, as the average per-victim loss from traditional identity fraud rose by $201 to $1,551, while identity fraud scams claimed $1,029 per victim. Further, victims spent an average of nine hours resolving their identity fraud issues.
“The 2021 losses are staggering and underscore how damaging identity fraud has become,” said Kathy Stokes, director of Fraud Prevention Programs at AARP. “Institutions must show empathy for the financial and emotional toll that identity fraud takes on its victims, who expect—and deserve—to be treated with respect, regardless of their situation.”
The study also outlined U.S. consumer attitudes towards security, prevention and recovery efforts, revealing significant expectations of their primary financial institutions’ anti-fraud measures. More than half (54%) of fraud victims want their bank to offer a fraud prevention resource center to help them navigate and resolve their identity fraud. Consumers also expressed an interest in receiving more fraud prevention education from their financial institutions as well as identity protection services.
“Considering that one in twenty Americans were victims of fraud in 2021, offering an efficient, quick and transparent recovery process is a valuable differentiator and critical to retaining customers,” said Linda D’Evelyn, Sr. Director of Product at Equifax. “With account takeover risks on the rise, consumers should also be advised on the value of protection that is constantly–and passively–operating in the background, like placing credit freezes or fraud alerts.”
The meteoric rise of account fraud demonstrates that criminals will leverage stolen consumer information to extract as much financial benefit as possible, all the while complicating the resolution process for victims and adding time and expense to recover from what is already an exhausting, stressful experience.
“The identity fraud landscape is shifting rapidly, and the 2021 figures show individuals and institutions alike are woefully unprepared for the tactics criminals are deploying in our modern, digital-first world,” shared Eric Kraus, vice president of Fraud, Risk and Compliance Solutions at FIS. “Fraudulent account creation and takeover are likely to rise again in 2022 unless significant, targeted efforts go into safeguarding consumer information as they live full, digitally-inspired lives.”
“One of the most effective ways to make consumers feel safe and secure is to help them build safer online habits,” added Paige Schaffer, CEO of Iris. “Consumers’ appetite to protect their personal information and conduct safer transactions offers the perfect environment to nurture those behaviors.”
More information about the 2022 Identity Fraud Study: The Virtual Battleground can be found at javelinstrategy.com.
About the Study
The 2022 ID Fraud survey was conducted online among 5,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18; this sample is representative of the U.S. census demographics distribution. Data collection took place from Oct. 30 through Nov. 16, 2021. Data is weighted using 18-plus U.S. Population Benchmarks on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, census region, and metropolitan status from the most current CPS targets. Due to rounding errors, the percentages on graphs may add up to 100% plus or minus 1%.
About Javelin Strategy & Research
Javelin Strategy & Research, part of the Escalent family, helps its clients make informed decisions in a digital financial world. It provides strategic insights to financial institutions including banks, credit unions, brokerages and insurers, as well as payments companies, technology providers, fintechs and government agencies. Javelin’s independent insights result from a rigorous research process that assesses consumers, businesses, providers, and the transactions ecosystem. It conducts in-depth primary research studies to pinpoint dynamic risks and opportunities in digital banking, payments, fraud & security, lending, and wealth management. Learn more at javelinstrategy.com.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.
At Equifax (NYSE: EFX), we believe knowledge drives progress. As a global data, analytics, and technology company, we play an essential role in the global economy by helping financial institutions, companies, employers, and government agencies make critical decisions with greater confidence. Our unique blend of differentiated data, analytics, and cloud technology drives insights to power decisions to move people forward. Headquartered in Atlanta and supported by more than 13,000 employees worldwide, Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region. For more information, visit Equifax.com.
FIS is a leading provider of technology solutions for merchants, banks and capital markets firms globally. Our employees are dedicated to advancing the way the world pays, banks and invests by applying our scale, deep expertise and data-driven insights. We help our clients use technology in innovative ways to solve business-critical challenges and deliver superior experiences for their customers. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, FIS ranks #241 on the 2021 Fortune 500 and is a member of Standard & Poor’s 500® Index. To learn more, visit www.fisglobal.com. Follow FIS on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (@FISGlobal).
About Iris® Powered by Generali
Iris Powered by Generali is a B2B2C global identity and cyber protection company owned by the 190-year-old multinational insurance company, Generali, offering always-available identity resolution experts (yes, real people available 24/7/365) and tech-forward solutions that uncomplicate the protection process. We opened our first Washington, DC office in 1983 with a simple mission, bringing customers from distress to relief – anytime, anywhere – and went on to become one of the very first identity theft resolution providers in the U.S. in 2003. Today, understanding that victimization has no geographical boundaries, we’ve got a solution no matter what your customers’ coordinates are. To learn more, visit irisidentityprotection.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook (@IrisIDProtect) and LinkedIn (Iris Powered by Generali).
BioCatch is the leader in Behavioral Biometrics, a technology that leverages machine learning to analyze an online user’s physical and cognitive digital behavior to protect individuals online. BioCatch’s mission is to unlock the power of behavior and deliver actionable insights to create a digital world where identity, trust and ease seamlessly co-exist. Today, BioCatch counts over 25 of the top 100 global banks as customers who use BioCatch solutions to fight fraud, drive digital transformation and accelerate business growth. BioCatch’s Client Innovation Board, an industry-led initiative including American Express, Barclays, Citi Ventures, and National Australia Bank, helps enable BioCatch to identify creative and cutting-edge ways to leverage the unique attributes of behavior for fraud prevention. With over a decade of analyzing data, more than 70 registered patents, and unparalleled experience, BioCatch continues to innovate to solve tomorrow’s problems. For more information, please visit www.biocatch.com.
Neustar, a TransUnion company, is a leader in identity resolution providing the data and technology that enable trusted connections between companies and people at the moments that matter most. Neustar offers industry-leading solutions in marketing, risk and communications that responsibly connect data on people, devices and locations, continuously corroborated through billions of transactions. Learn how your company can benefit from the power of trusted connections. Learn more at www.home.neustar.
Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organisations to prevent identity fraud and crime. We have 20,000 people operating across 44 countries and every day we’re investing in new technologies, talented people, and innovation to help all our clients maximise every opportunity. We are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. Learn more at www.experianplc.com or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the Group.
About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)
TransUnion is a global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing an actionable picture of each person so they can be reliably represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good®. A leading presence in more than 30 countries across five continents, TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences, and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people. Learn more at www.transunion.com.