If you have shifted to be more of an online shopper and banker like many Americans did during the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have thought about how safe your information is on the websites you enter it onto. Credit card fraud and identity theft are on the rise, and according to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021, credit card fraud was the second most reported identity theft type.
This resource guide will take you through all the facts and statistics you need to know about credit card fraud and identity theft, and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
8 Quick Statistics on Credit Card Fraud and ID Theft
- Credit card fraud was the second most reported identity theft type to the FTC in 2021.¹
- 49% of all reports to the FTC in 2021 were fraud-related.¹
- 1.4 million reports to the FTC in 2021 were for identity theft.¹
- $5.8 billion was lost to fraud in 2021.¹
- 389,737 is the number of credit card fraud reports to the FTC in 2021.¹
- 30- to 39-year-olds is the age group that reported identity theft to the FTC the most in 2021.¹
- The number of data compromises in 2021 was up 68% from 2020.²
- The overall number of data compromises in 2021 was 1,862.²
Most Common Types of Fraud
According to the FTC, the Consumer Sentinel Network took in over 5.7 million reports in 2021. Fraud makes up 2.8 million of those reports, which equates to 49% of all reports. Identify theft was 1.4 million (25%) and “other” calls were 1.5 million (27%).
The FTC, says the 10 most common fraud categories are:
- Imposter scams
- Online shopping and negative reviews
- Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries
- Internet services
- Business and job opportunities
- Telephone and mobile services
- Investment related
- Travel, vacations, and timeshare plans
- Foreign money offers and fake check scams
Of the 2.8 million fraud reports, there was more than $5.8 billion lost, which is a significant increase from $2.4 billion in 2020.
The Consumer Sentinel Network says that in 2021, people filed more reports of identity theft (25% of all reports) than any other type of complaint. Imposter scams, a subgroup of fraud reports, followed with 17.2% of all reports from consumers in 2021. Credit bureaus, information furnishers, and report users rounded out the top 3 with 10.3% of all reports.
When you look at fraud reports by state, the states with the highest per capita rates of reported fraud in 2020 were Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Nevada, and Florida.
Identity theft is defined as a fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, such as their name, credit card information, or Social Security number without their permission. There are many forms of identity theft, but one of the main types is credit card fraud.
Credit card fraud was the second most reported type of identity theft in 2021, with 389,737 reports made to the FTC.
However, credit card fraud was topped by government documents or benefits, which was the most reported type of identity theft in 2021. The FTC received 395,948 reports from people who claimed their information was misused to apply for government documents or benefits like unemployment.
When you look at identity theft by state, the states that had the most reports of identity theft in 2021 were Rhode Island, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, and Georgia, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network.
You can also look at identity theft by age — the top age group that reported identity theft in 2021 was 30- to 39-year-olds.
The 30- to 39-year-old age group also made the most reports of all identity theft categories except for 1 category (government documents or benefits fraud).
Credit Card Fraud
As the second most reported type of identity theft, it is important to know that there are many forms of credit card fraud:
- Card-not-Present — According to Investopedia, card-not-present fraud is a type of credit card scam in which the customer does not physically present the card to the merchant during the fraudulent transaction. Card-not-present fraud can occur with transactions that are conducted online or over the phone. It is theoretically harder to prevent than card-present fraud because the merchant cannot personally examine the credit card for signs of possible fraud, such as a missing hologram or altered account number
- Credit Card Skimming — Credit card skimmers are illegal card readers attached to payment terminals. These card readers grab data off a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe without your knowledge. Anyone who uses their credit or debit cards at ATMs, gas stations, restaurants, or retail stores can become a victim of credit card skimming.
- Lost or Stolen Cards — This is simply as the name suggests … when someone uses a credit card that was lost or stolen from the owner.
- Credit Card Application Fraud — This happens when someone uses stolen personal information to apply for credit cards. Typically, someone will not find out that a card has been opened under their name until they apply for credit or check their credit report.
To see where credit card fraud is more prevalent in the U.S., check out this interactive map for credit card fraud hotspots.
It is important to note that there is a difference between credit card fraud and debit card fraud. With credit card fraud, the issuer of your credit card money is in danger of being stolen, but with debit card fraud, it is your personal money being stolen.
A data breach is when information is stolen from a system without the authorization of the owner of the system. Like other types of fraud, data breaches are becoming more common. According to the 2021 Data Breach Report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, in 2021, there were more data compromises in the U.S. since the first state data breach notice law became effective in 2003.
According the ITRC, the overall number of data compromises (1,862) is up 68% over 2020; the new record number of data compromises is 23% over the previous all-time high (1,506).
How To Avoid Being a Victim of Credit Card Fraud and ID Theft
As fraud becomes more and more prevalent, there are plenty of ways you can help protect yourself. Here are some ways to reduce your risk of falling victim to credit card fraud:
- Only use your card for purchases on websites you trust.
- Never enter your card information (or Social Security number, etc.) in response to an email or via an emailed link. Always go directly to the company’s site instead of typing the address yourself.
- Use a credit card (not a debit card) to limit your liability for any fraud that may occur.
- Do not give out your card number over the phone unless you initiated the transaction and you know the company is reputable.
Bottom Line: Learn how to prevent credit card fraud with our full guide on the best ways to prevent credit card fraud and theft.
With fraud, identity theft, and data breaches on the rise, it’s important to make sure anywhere you are putting your personal information is a safe and secure space. It is also wise to frequently check your credit report, and if you notice fraudulent activity, make sure to report it to the appropriate authorities.
¹ Federal Trade Commission. (February 2022) Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2021. https://www.ftc.gov/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-2021
² Identity Theft Resource Center. (January 2021) 2021 in Review Data Breach Annual Report; Identity Compromises: From the Era of Identity Theft to the Age of Identity Fraud. https://www.idtheftcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ITRC_2021_Data_Breach_Report.pdf
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