One-quarter of Americans were impacted by identity theft in some way in 2021, according to a report that was issued this week. The 25% who were impacted was down slightly from 27% — a record high — that was recorded in 2020, as scammers turned their attention back to consumer financial products from government subsidy programs.
Identity thieves shifted their focus and targeted more elderly adults last year, according to the report. Twenty-five percent of consumers over the age of 55 were impacted by identity theft last year, up from 12% a year earlier. Many of the individuals in this age group started creating new digital accounts — possibly to stay in touch with friends and family during the pandemic — and were not prepared well-enough to protect themselves and their data from scammers.
The growth and emergence of Buy Now, Pay Later products is serving to be a ripe area of opportunity for identity thieves. Still lagging behind checking accounts, credit cards, and mobile phone accounts, of those impacted by identity theft in 2021, 23% said it was a result of a BNPL purchase.
More than 40% of fraud victims said they were unlikely or extremely unlikely to do business with a financial institution that had allowed the fraud to take place, up from 20% a year earlier.
“The methods fraudsters use to commit identity theft continue to evolve and grow more sophisticated,” said Shirley Inscoe, Strategic Advisor at Aite-Novarica Group and author of the new report, in a release. “Firms should review and enhance current application controls and Know Your Customer processes to protect customers against identity theft. This will help reduce fraud losses and improve regulatory compliance as well.”