Half of Americans Experienced Identity Theft During COVID-19 Pandemic, New Study Shows


March 16, 2021

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Half of Americans Experienced Identity Theft During COVID-19 Pandemic, New Study Shows

A new report uncovers a striking pervasiveness of identity theft perpetrated against U.S. consumers where half of respondents surveyed experienced such an occurrence during the pandemic.

Developed by Aite Group and underwritten by GIACT, the study found that 47% of U.S. consumers experienced identity theft between 2019 and 2020. And over the past two years, 37% of Americans experienced application fraud (i.e., the unauthorized use of one’s identity to apply for an account), and 38% experienced account takeover (i.e., unauthorized access to a consumer’s existing account).

Victims were dissatisfied with the assistance provided following an identity theft attack. 42% of those who experienced identity theft related to a fraudulent finance application, and 56% of those who experienced consumer loan application fraud said they were reluctant to keep using the services of the at-fault financial institution.

On average nearly one-third of surveyed consumers detected checking, credit or consumer loan fraud on their own. Less than a quarter were notified by their financial institution or by the financial institution where the fraudulent account was opened, according to the report. And nearly a quarter were notified by a collection agency on average.

“This report represents one of the most comprehensive recent reviews of identity theft and account takeover, and marks an inflection point for the industry,” said Shirley Inscoe, senior analyst for Aite Group’s Fraud & AML practice. “2020 not only saw an increased reliance on digital banking, payments and online accounts, but also increased rates of fraud. Without meaningful action taken by businesses, financial institutions and others, fraud will unfortunately continue to flourish. Education, along with the implementation of enhanced anti-fraud protections, is needed.” 

Researchers correlate the findings with a shift towards newer digital payments methods and accounts during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, over one-third of those who used a new payment product or service (34%) or a new method of banking (37%) experienced identity fraud.

You can also check if your personal info has been stolen or made public on the internet, with Bitdefender”s Digital Identity Protection tool.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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