Identity Fraud Soars in 2021, Topping $52 Billion in Losses

Services for Real Estate Pros with Inc

The numbers are in, and it’s not happy news. In 2021, traditional identity fraud was higher than ever, and instances have risen 79% over 2020 numbers. On top of this, the number of people in the US that have been impacted by identity fraud rose by more than 50%, meaning there are 15 million people who suffered through identity fraud this past year.

Identity Fraud

On top of this, research shows that these losses from identity fraud scams, where a fraudster tricks a victim to give up personal information, topped $52 billion in losses, and it affected a total of 42 million people in the United States.

According to researchers, cybercriminals went back to basics this year, and they mostly focused on tactics like malware and bots, in addition to other traditional identity fraud scams. These criminals are also doing things like changing tactics in an attempt to remain undetectable and to maximize the amount of info that they can get from their victims.

We are Also Seeing Huge Shifts in How Criminals are Working

Another thing that we have noted in 2021 is that we saw a huge increase in account takeover fraud as well as new account fraud, which means the bad guys are using a number of different methods to get what they want, and this is resulting in billions of dollars lost.

We are learning that:

  • There was a 109% increase in new account fraud, which allows criminals to obtain enough consumer information to open accounts, including credit card accounts and merchant accounts.
  • There was a 90% increase in account takeover losses, too, thanks to the ability of these criminals to highjack the online lives of victims.
  • There was a 69% increase in fraud with credit cards that already exist, too, while fraud on non-card accounts, like bank accounts, utilities, and insurance, has increased by 73%.

The personal impact of identity fraud also grew more in 2021, as the average loss rose from $201 per incident to $1551, and people have spent a total of around nine hours, on average, trying to settle these issues. This just cements the fact in place that identity fraud is extremely damaging, and that industries, where these things happen, need to have more empathy for both the emotional and financial toll that ID fraud takes on victims.

Attitudes Towards Efforts for Preventing and Recovering Losses

These facts are also giving us a look at attitudes towards things like preventing and recovering losses, as well as attitudes towards security. This shows us that people have very high expectations that their financial institutions will do more to help them if they get stuck in a situation like this. More than half of fraud victims want their banks, for instance, to offer some sort of help to get through identity fraud, as many do not right now.

Consumers also want more fraud prevention education as well as identity protection services. When you consider that 1 in 20 people in the US were victims of fraud in 2021, it’s essential to have some sort of recovery help in place. Account takeovers are rising, and consumers need to understand how valuable protection can be, even if it’s in the background, such as applying fraud alerts or credit freezes to their accounts.

Tips to Help You Protect Yourself

It is fairly easy to protect yourself from account loss and identity fraud. Here are some tips:

  • Freeze your credit. When you do this, it will be impossible for anyone to open a new account in your name...even yourself...until you lift the freeze.
  • Consider getting identity theft coverage through us, Protect Now, your employer, or a third party. Though it is not a fool-proof method, it can make it much easier to stop cybercriminals.
  • Use a browser program that can tell you if you are navigating to a website that might be dangerous. With these programs, you will know immediately if a site you want to click on could be malicious.
  • Use two-factor authentication when you can. You should also consider signing up for text/email “push” alerts for social media, bank accounts, and email accounts.
  • Use a password manager to keep your passwords safe. Also, make sure that you use a different password for every account you have.
  • Take some time to learn about common online scams. You should have some knowledge of what phishing, scareware, ransomware, and other scams are.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Comments (10)

Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Really mind-boggling, Robert. Just last week one of our neighbors fell for that "we've kidnapped your grandson" scam and is now out $8,500. And this neighbor doesn't even have an on-line presence... he has no idea how to turn on a computer and has no email.

Jun 25, 2022 05:54 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Robert - this should concern everyone and concerns me personally.  Someone I know messaged me on Facebook Messenger.  It was a fraud.

Jun 25, 2022 06:20 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great information.  Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day!

Jun 25, 2022 06:33 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

Thank you for sharing the information. Buyers and sellers in your area will benefit from your expertise. Wishing you continued success.  Have a wonderful day and sell a house.  bill

Jun 25, 2022 09:40 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Robert- thank you once again for sharing this information with us. My niece had one of her credit cards compromised a few weeks ago. Wouldn't you love to throw them all in jail and toss the key in the ocean/?!!!

Jun 25, 2022 01:39 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Jun 25, 2022 07:15 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Robert,

Once again I need to say thank you once for sharing this information with us. Fraud is real and we have to be ever diligent!

Jun 26, 2022 06:20 AM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Who ever thought we'd have to be on top of things like this? What a shame! Thank you for sharing though. I hear the elderly are the most susceptible to fraud.

Jun 26, 2022 07:20 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Someone has been trying to hack my Facebook account, because I turned on two factor authentication after your class I got alerted three times in the last week. I just realized, I probably need to change that password.

Jun 27, 2022 08:27 AM
Jim Paulson

Two factor authentication is absolutely fantastic . . . until you go on vacation and ask someone to cover your accounts and it sends the code to your phone and you don't have service to permission them in.  Next time, I will either re-assign the # before I go out of range or turn it off in general.

Jun 28, 2022 02:23 PM
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

I am shocked at how many emails I keep getting claiming to be my Norton Anti-Virus software (that I don't use).  I am also seeing an uptick in "buyers or sellers" wanting me to go to What's App to discuss their needs.  I have read so many articles about how many times it has been hacked and how unsecure it is, I usually just delete those messages and block them.  In hind sight, I should refer them to local agents I don't like.  If they are legit, I would get a closing referral fee; however, if they are what I suspect, I just took them down indirectly.

Jun 28, 2022 02:26 PM