Identity theft made up 369,162 or 18 percent of the more than 2 million complaints that the FTC received in 2012. This is the first time that the total consumer complaints hit the 2 million mark. The second most reported consumer complaint, as last year, was debt collection practices.
Although identity theft complaints made to the FTC were 369,162, early studies commissioned by the FTC showed that many more incidences of identity theft for unreported by victims or when reported to law enforcement, financial institutions, and other organizations that they do not get reported to the FTC. Annual estimates of identity theft have hovered around 10 million since the FTC began keeping track of identity theft 13 years ago.
Tax-related identity theft, categorized as wage-related fraud was the leading type of identity theft for 2012, making up 43 percent of the total. In the prior reporting year, 2011, tax-related fraud was 24% of the total, second to government document and benefits fraud (fake identification and obtaining government benefits, for example, unemployment, food stamps, disability income, etc., buy use of fake identification).
Not too long ago some experts predicted that the crime of identity would decrease, and the myriad identity theft protection services were a fad. Instead, the crime continues to increase as criminals find creative ways to breach information security systems, violate our right to privacy and take over identities for nefarious purposes.