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One in four U.S. consumers impacted by identity theft in 2021, Aite-Novarica consumer survey finds.


One in four U.S. consumers impacted by identity theft in 2021, Aite-Novarica consumer survey finds.

  • GIACT (a Refinitiv company) commissions identity theft report for the second year, highlights findings
  • Record-high rates of identity theft perpetrated against U.S. consumers persisted in 2021 
  • Incidents targeting consumers 55 and older nearly doubled year-over-year
  • Peer-to-peer and buy now, pay later platforms emerged as preferred attack vectors for fraud operators seeking to exploit new vulnerabilities

Aite-Novarica Group, a research and advisory firm, today announced a new Impact Report commissioned by GIACT, a Refinitiv company, that details excessively high rates of identity theft – including application fraud and account takeover – and its impact on U.S. consumers along with virtually every type of financial product, commercial platform, and government subsidy program. GIACT commissioned the report to highlight the persistent and widespread nature of identity theft and its impact on consumers and businesses alike. 

The report, U.S. Identity Theft in 2021: Adapting and Evolving, tracks the evolution and movement of identity theft throughout different age groups, account types, and payments methods. The report also follows customer sentiment around identity theft and remediation. 

Report highlights include: 

  • Identity theft shifts attention back to consumer financial products. After chasing government stimulus payments in 2020 and early 2021, identity theft again turned its attention back to consumer financial products. Twenty-five percent of U.S. consumers were impacted by identity theft in 2021 – slightly down from a record high 27% in 2020, primarily due to an ending of government subsidy programs and disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Identity theft against those aged 55 and above increases. According to the report, 25% of U.S. consumers 55 or older were impacted by identity theft in 2021 – a sharp rise from 12% in 2020 as this group created new digital accounts and may have been more unprepared to protect their data against identity theft scams.
  • Identity theft finds a new target in buy now, pay later. While checking accounts, credit cards and mobile phone accounts represent the most common targets of application fraud, a new target emerged: buy now, pay later (BNPL). The report found that 23% of those impacted by application fraud schemes were targeted through BNPL payments. 
  • Identity theft continues to hammer peer-to-peer (P2P) payments. Twenty-five percent of those impacted by account takeover experienced a fraudulent P2P transfer – the second most common account takeover response. And unlike credit cards, significantly less consumers were satisfied with P2P recovery process (82% were satisfied with credit card recovery; 63% were satisfied with P2P recovery). 
  • Consumers become less tolerant of fraud. Identity theft is creating more reputational risk as consumers have become less tolerant of financial institutions that allow fraud to take place. For example, 41% of consumer loan application fraud victims said that that they were unlikely or extremely unlikely to do business with the financial institution that allowed the fraud to take place – up from 20% in 2020. Meanwhile, 31% of account takeover victims claimed that they moved their account to another financial institution as a result of account takeover.

“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. “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.” 

“The findings in the 2021 report send further alarming signals about the evolution of identity theft where one-quarter of the U.S. population has likely been impacted by fraud in just the past year,” said James Mirfin, Global Head of Digital Identity & Fraud Solutions at Refinitiv. “Financial institutions, businesses, and government entities must act now to manage identity risk, with sophisticated tools and data that can stay ahead of fraud’s unrelenting advancements. This continues to be an arms race and the customers are losing out. We thank Aite-Novarica Group for developing this important report and look forward to meeting the challenge of identity theft head-on.” 

preview of the report is available online, and desk copies are available to qualified media. Please contact [email protected] or call Kaitlyn Labbe at +1.857.327.9442 for more information.

About Aite-Novarica Group:
Aite-Novarica Group is an advisory firm providing mission-critical insights on technology, regulations, strategy, and operations to hundreds of banks, insurers, payments providers, and investment firms—as well as the technology and service providers that support them. Comprising former senior technology, strategy, and operations executives as well as experienced researchers and consultants, our experts provide actionable advice to our client base, leveraging deep insights developed via our extensive network of clients and other industry contacts. Visit us on the web and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About GIACT (a Refinitiv company):  
GIACT®, a Refinitiv and LSEG company, is a leader in helping companies positively identify and authenticate customers. Since 2004, GIACT has been empowering businesses across all industries with> or call 1-866-918-2409. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Press Contacts:
Kaitlyn Labbe
Aite-Novarica Group
[email protected]

Robert Woods 
PR inquiries for GIACT (a Refinitiv company)
[email protected]

Mark Harrop
PR inquiries for Refinitiv (an LSEG Business) 
[email protected]