ID theft in New York surged 85% in 2020 amid pandemic, DiNapoli saysMay 15, 2021
Complaints of identity theft surged to record levels during the pandemic, with more than 67,000 allegations filed statewide in 2020, a jump of 85% from the year prior and quadruple the amount from a decade earlier, according to a report released Thursday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
The metropolitan area, which includes Long Island and New York City’s five boroughs, had the highest rate of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission at 403 cases per 100,000 people, the report found.
What to know
- More New Yorkers fell victim to identity theft in 2020.
- Even when no money is stolen, consumers can face dire consequences from the theft of personal information.
- Steps to protect against ID theft include carrying limited number of credit cards, stronger online security and frequently changing passwords.
“In the midst of the stresses caused by the pandemic, many New Yorkers also dealt with identity theft last year,” DiNapoli said. “Even when there’s no money stolen, resolving the consequences of stolen personal information is complicated and can take months of effort. Often the pain is really felt later, when victims have trouble getting a job, renting an apartment or getting a loan because their identity was stolen.”
Credit card fraud was the most common type of identity theft, with nearly 25,000 New Yorkers telling the FTC that someone had misused their information on an existing account or to open a new account, the report found.
Nearly 16,000 New Yorkers reported their identity had been stolen through their email, social media, insurance, medical services, online shopping or investment accounts, the comptroller found. The state also saw major spikes in reports of identity thefts related to loans, leases, debit cards and other bank accounts.
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have provided an opportunity for scammers and con artists, the report found.
Residents across the state filed more than 3,600 identity theft complaints related to the pandemic, the data shows. Once personal or financial information is obtained, thieves typically use the victims’ identity to fraudulently apply for COVID-19 benefit programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program or for unemployment insurance, investigators said.
“When this occurs, victims may be prevented from legitimately receiving such…