Pandemic-related identity fraud: How serious is it?

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and LexisNexis Risk Solutions have released the Pandemic-Related Identity Fraud Crime Victim Impacts Report, which shows how individuals and government agencies have been impacted since 2020 by an unprecedented wave of government benefits identity fraud.

pandemic-related identity fraud

“We speak with identity crime victims every day at the ITRC,” said Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

“However, during the past two years, we have seen a volume and velocity of identity fraud on an unprecedented scale. This report shows the scope of the fraud, and gives us a roadmap for how to help avoid similar mass fraud events while respecting consumer privacy.”

Pandemic-related identity fraud concerns

  • 42 percent of pandemic benefit applicants reported being the victim of identity fraud that led to them being denied benefits or benefits being disbursed in their name when they had not applied.
  • 24 percent of victims’ cases required between six months and one year to resolve. 8 percent of 2021 victims describe their cases as unresolved in April 2022.
  • 59 percent of government executives reported that they have modernized their technology since January 1, 2020. 31 percent added steps to their identity verification process, 13 percent added new tools, 5 percent moved to an automated ID verification system, and 3 percent added a new vendor.
  • 71 percent of those who made changes to their identity verification process saw no change in the acceptance/rejection rate, while 24 percent saw the acceptance rate increase. 6 percent saw the rejection rate increase, and 6 percent saw the fraudulent application acceptance rate increase.
  • There are significant disconnects between the types of identity credentials consumers are required to provide to government agencies and the willingness or desire of individuals to provide the information. While 16 percent of consumers expressed no qualms with providing the requested information, the remaining respondents revealed varying levels of concern. The largest group of consumers – 48 percent – were concerned that their personal information could be exposed in a data breach. Employee misuse, government surveillance, profiling and identity confusion were the other concerns identified.

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