Number of US identity fraud victims grew by 16% in 2016 to 15.4M – report

The number of identity fraud victims in the U.S. reached a record high last year, according to a research firm, which found that some 15.4 million Americans fell victim despite the introduction of EMV chip-and-signature credit cards.

The new data from Javelin Strategy & Research suggests identity fraud in the U.S. grew by 16 percent in 2016, reaching the highest levels seen by the firm since it began tracking such fraud in 2003.

Though fraud cases are said to be at an all-time high, the amount of dollars involved is still down from the 2012 peak of $22 billion. Last year, fraudsters were said to have been responsible for $16 billion in losses.

Of note, card-not-present fraud increased by 40 percent, driven by an increase in EMV chip-and-signature cards and terminals.

But consumers are also said to be better at detecting fraud, limiting the dollar amount criminals stole.

In all, 6.15 percent of American consumers were said to be victims of identity fraud in 2016.

Data released last year found that a total of 41 million Americans have been affected by identity fraud. Nearly one-third of Americans have either had their identity stolen, or personally know someone who has.

Identity theft has been a major focus for the Internal Revenue Service during tax season this year, prompting the federal agency to warn taxpayers that new rules cracking down on fraud will delay fiscal 2016 tax returns. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act aims to reduce tax fraud via identity theft by providing investigators more time to investigate illegal activities. The return delays are expected to affect 15 million American households.