The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just released its annual 2022 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book – or what I call the FTC’s Annual Report on ID Theft and Fraud.
The Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book includes reports, statistics, and trends received through the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network, a database of information reported directly by consumers along with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the Better Business Bureau, industry groups, and non-profit organizations.
The 2022 numbers show that identity theft and fraud is not slowing down and continues to rise as there were 2.4 million fraud reports in 2022, down from 2.9 million in 2021. However, the FTC data highlights that consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to identity theft and fraud scams in 2022, an increase of more than 30 percent when consumers lost $6.1 billion in 2021.
Here are some additional identity theft findings:
In 2022, people filed more reports about Identity Theft (21.5% of all reports), than any other type of complaint.
Imposter Scams (as a subset of Fraud reports) and Credit Bureaus/Information Furnishers rounded out the top three identity theft reports.
Credit Card Fraud tops the list of identity theft types reported in 2022 where consumers said their personal information was misused with an existing credit card or when applying for a new credit card.
The top 5 states for reported identity theft in 2022 were Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Delaware, and Nevada.
Younger people (Age 20-29) reported losing money to fraud more often than older people. But when people aged 70 years of age and older had a loss, the median loss was much higher.
In addition, Identity Theft Reports by Type included:
Credit Card ID Theft Fraud
Bank ID Theft and Fraud
Loan or Lease ID Theft and Fraud
Employment or Tax-Related ID Theft and Fraud
Phone or Utilities ID Theft and Fraud
Government Documents or Benefits ID Theft and Fraud
Email or Social Media ID Theft and Fraud
Insurance or Medical ID Theft and Fraud
Based on the above and with more than 168 million individual tax returns expected to be filed before this year’s April 18 tax deadline, consumers need to be aware of tax fraud and scams known more commonly as tax-based identity theft.
According to the FTC, there were more than 111,000 cases of tax-based identity theft in 2021 and nearly 79,000 cases of tax-based identity theft in 2022. Most of this tax-based identity theft and fraud happens when an ID theft criminal files a tax return with your name and Social Security Number to claim your tax refund.
But it gets worse as ID theft criminals who steal your name and Social Security Number to get your tax refund are also targeting small businesses and sole proprietorships
Whether you are an individual consumer or a small business owner, you can go to IRS Identity Theft Central to learn more about tax-based identity theft.
Lastly, here are some additional tips if you believe you are a victim of tax-based identity theft:
File an FTC complaint.
Close any financial accounts opened without your permission.
Respond immediately to any IRS notice, according to instructions.
For years, the FBI has stated that education and awareness are critical in responding to identity theft criminals and cybersecurity thieves. Stay vigilant this tax season and use the Consumer Sentinel Network and the IRS as a resource to help mitigate your exposure to tax-based identity theft.