Financial fraud reports in the US jumped by 104% in 2020 Q1

According to data extracted and analyzed by Atlas VPN, financial fraud complaints in the US jumped by over 104% in 2020 Q1 compared to 2019 Q1.

Financial identity theft occurs when fraudsters gain access to the victims’ financial information and use it for their gain whilst pretending to be the victim.

The most common example of financial identity fraud is scammers stealing the victims’ credit card information to make purchases or to take out cash without the victims’ knowledge.

However, credit card fraud is not the only possible financial identity theft. If fraudsters have acquired a person’s sensitive information, they could take out loans, leases, or drain a checking account.

Atlas VPN analyzed identity theft data provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). FTC has an official website called IdentityTheft.org, where US citizens can report identity theft and receive help by receiving a personal identity theft recovery plan.

Our financial fraud analysis included credit card fraud, loan/lease fraud, and bank fraud.

Throughout 2019 Q1, FTC registered 73,494 financial fraud cases. During 2020 Q1, the number of fraudulent financial reports jumped to 150,319. Comparing financial fraud reports from 2019 Q1 to 2020 Q1, the number of complaints increased by over 104%.

The largest increase was in loan or lease frauds, with a 116% increase in the number of reports.

However, the largest overall number of reports was credit card fraud. In 2019 Q1, FTC received 45,120 reports, while in 2020 Q1, the number of reports jumped to 92,367. Credit card scams also jumped by 104%.

Lastly, bank fraud escalated by 84%, when comparing numbers of 2019 Q1 to 2020 Q1.

Looking at financial identity theft from a wider perspective, from 2015 Q1 to 2020 Q1, the number of financial fraud reports surged by 434%.

Credit card fraud increased from 17,236 reports in 2015 Q1 to 45,120 reports in 2020 Q1, up by 435%.

Loan or lease fraud grew from 4,416 reports in 2015 Q1 to 17,349 complaints in 2020 Q1. Comparing these two periods, a loan or lease fraud complaints skyrocketed by over 751%.

Lastly, bank fraud has risen from 5,494 complaints in 2015 Q1 to 11,025 in 2020 Q1. Meaning, bank fraud reports increased by 213%.

Financial fraud is one of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to make money. Combined with a large number of data breaches in the past few years, financial identity theft is becoming more common.

Identity theft most common in Delaware

Financial fraud is not the only type of identity theft. Other types include phone or utility fraud, employment or tax-related fraud, government documents or benefits fraud, among others.

When looking at all identity theft reports by state, Delaware is a state with the most complaints per 100,000 citizens. FTC received 187 reports per 100,000 population in 2020 Q1 originating from Delaware.

Regarding identity theft reports per 100,000 population, the second is Georgia, with 145 reports.

In contrast, Maine, Vermont, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, are the safest states in terms of identity theft, with less than 20 reports each per 100,000 population.

In total, in 2020 Q1, FTC received 221,726 identity theft complaints. Out of these, credit card fraud was the most common identity theft type, with 92,367 reports. In other words, over 41% of identity theft reports were credit card fraud.

A social security number (SSN) is one of the most important pieces of information that cybercriminals abuse. Many financial operations require a social security number. Opening a bank account, taking out a lease - all of these require an SSN.

Once an identity thief has your SSN—through infiltrating companies’ internal database or by purchasing it on the dark web—it is easier to acquire all other needed information to continue with the scam.

Our earlier investigation found that on the dark web, SSN costs less than a Starbucks coffee.


John C.

John C.


Tags: fraud identity theft