Identity thieves are thriving during the pandemic according to new figures released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Identity fraud was way up during the pandemic, in fact, reports of identity theft more than doubled from 2019 to 2020.
Government pandemic relief programs were among the hardest hit targets. Identity theft fraud aimed at government benefits like supplemental unemployment increased almost 3,000% from the previous year. Although people aged 20 to 29 had their information stolen twice as often as elders, the group age 70 and over lost a higher amount of money per incident.
The new figures show that anyone can be victimized by identity thieves, imposters, and hucksters. Of the 2.2 million fraud reports filed in 2020, more than a third of the victims lost money. In all, more than $3.3 billion was stolen.
Criminals accomplish identity theft and other fraudulent schemes by obtaining the personal information of unsuspecting victims. With someone’s name, birth date, and social security number — what thieves call the “holy trinity”— a criminal can impersonate the victim to open credit cards, raid bank accounts, or apply for government benefits, all in the victim’s name.
Some people become victims when they share private information with imposters who pose as customer service representatives, government agencies, or vendors asking for bank account numbers or a social security number. Others lose their privacy when an online merchant or other company fails to secure their customers’ personal data.
If you have been the victim of identity theft and need help, contact the Schlanger Law Group. Our practice focuses on representing victims of identity theft, inaccurate credit reporting, and other misconduct by banks, finance companies, credit bureaus, and other businesses.