To understand the scope and nature of identity theft, statistics and studies can be helpful. Keep in mind that the number of identity theft complaints that agencies or organizations receive does not indicate the rate of identity theft. Complaint numbers may rise or fall because the percentage of identity theft victims who report their problems to particular agencies or organizations has changed, not necessarily because there are more or fewer victims. Surveys provide better information about the rate of identity theft.
The California Attorney General’s Office issues studies and reports on data breaches and other subjects related to identity theft.
The Report on Child Identity Theft from the Carnegie Mellon University CyLab describes how identity thieves are targeting children for unused Social Security numbers. A 2012 Child Identity Fraud Report sponsored by the nonprofit Identity Theft Assistance Center provides data on the frequency, sources and consequences of child identity theft.
To Catch a Thief: Are Identity Theft Services Worth the Cost?, a study of the identity theft industry, was released by Consumer Federation of America in March 2009 and led to the Best Practices for Identity Theft Services, which were developed by CFA’s Identity Theft Best Practices Working Group. CFA’s April 2012 report, Best Practices for Identity Theft Services: How Are Services Measuring Up?, shows progress has been made and recommends improvements to meet the goals of the best practices.
The Federal Trade Commission releases a report every year about fraud and identity theft based on complaints to its Consumer Sentinel Database:
The nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center produces a variety of surveys and studies.
Javelin Strategy & Research is a company that conducts annual surveys about identity theft fraud, which is the use of stolen personal information:
The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics provides identity theft statistics based on its National Crime Victimization Surveys.