This report, sponsored by Equifax, explores the ever-changing digital landscape into which consumer data— specifically personally identifiable information (PII)—is pressed into service, the threats posed by this expansion, what consumers largely aren’t doing about it, and what financial institutions and businesses alike can do to protect consumers and their own bottom lines. This report stems from the 2023 Identity Fraud Study: The Butterfly Effect, published by Javelin Strategy & Research in March 2023. Javelin Strategy & Research maintains complete independence in its data collection, findings, and analyses.


“Who are you?” is the single, inexhaustible, vital, endlessly recurring question that pervades modern life. From social media accounts to bank accounts; from online and mobile app profiles for everything from pizza delivery to password managers; and for everyone from the local gearhead to the highest government official, the question is posed across every personal, political, and commercial interaction.

Personally identifiable information (PII) supplies the answer to that question. It is the proverbial master key that unlocks every digital, socio-political, commercial, and financial doorway. Sadly, once it is compromised, that same key that connects consumers to many of the things they care most about can be used by criminals to open a whole different set of doors that lead to a time-consuming, stress-inducing, and financially devastating world of identity fraud detection, mitigation, and—it is hoped—resolution. Unfortunately for most consumers, none of whom are immune to the pervasive threat of identity fraud, their keys are already in the hands of nefarious actors, or soon will be, whether they know it or not. 

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