17.6M U.S. Residents Victims of ID Theft in 2014

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Sept. 29 — Approximately 17.6 million U.S. residents—7 percent of U.S. residents 16 years old or older—were victims of at least one incident of identity theft in 2014, according to a Sept. 27 Bureau of Justice Statistics report.

The most common type of identity theft was the misuse or attempted misuse of an existing account, experienced by 16.5 million residents, BJS said.

According to the report, victims may have experienced multiples types of identity theft. Approximately 8.6 million experienced fraudulent credit card use; more than 8 million experienced unauthorized or attempted use of existing bank accounts; and approximately 1.5 million were targets of other types of existing account thefts, including misuse or attempted misuse of telephone, online or insurance account.

Approximately two-thirds of the victims reported a direct financial loss, BJS said, and about 14 percent experienced an “out-of-pocket loss” of $1 or more. The report also noted that the more than 50 percent of identity theft victims were able to resolve problems associated with the incident in a day or less. However, approximately 9 percent of victims spent more than a month to resolve the resulting problems.

The report defined identity theft as “attempted or successful misuse of an existing account, such as a debit or credit card account, the misuse of personal information to open a new account or the misuse of personal information for other fraudulent purposes, such as obtaining government benefits or providing false information to police during a crime or traffic stop.”

The report, “Victims of Identity Theft, 2014” is available at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit14.pdf.