The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nonprofit organization established to support victims of identity crime, has published its first-ever report that looks at the identity crimes committed against individuals as reported by the victims of those crimes — the ITRC’s 2021 Trends in Identity Report.
In the report, the ITRC identifies the identity scams reported in 2021 and how criminals convinced people to willingly share information they know should be protected. The report also identifies how stolen information was used to open new accounts, as well as tips on what people can do to protect themselves and their information.
In 2021, the ITRC received the highest number of contacts in its history about identity crimes and requests for assistance to prevent identity misuse. Identity scams were the primary cause of victims sharing personally identifiable information (PII) with criminals, and Google Voice scams were the most reported identity-related scams at 53%.
The ITRC saw increases in 2021 in the following areas:
- Reports from victims of non-financial account takeover (235% increase over 2020)
- Social media account takeover (1,044% increase over 2020)
- Identity misuse involving government credentials or accounts (154% increase from 2019-2020 and 7% increase from 2020 to 2021)
In the Trends in Identity Report, the ITRC offers tips on how to stay vigilant:
- To reduce the risk of a social media scam that leads to an account takeover, watch out for a direct message from “friends” and followers that say you can win or earn easy money. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t click on any links in a message you are not expecting. Instead, go directly to the source to verify the validity of the message. Don’t share PII.
- To reduce the risk of identity fraud tied to pandemic assistance, freeze your credit, guard your PII, and use strong and unique passcodes. Take the same steps to stay vigilant against new account fraud.
“When we look back on 2021, it was a record-breaking year in so many different areas,” said Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “We saw many different forms of identity crimes reach levels we have not seen since we were founded in 1999. With high water marks for identity fraud, compromises, and misuse, it’s important to take protective measures like freezing your credit, using strong 12+ character unique passphrases on all of your accounts and ignoring suspicious messages.”
For the full report, visit www.idtheftcenter.org.