One of the most entertaining aspects of the recent Powerball jackpot hitting $1.5 billion was the way analysts tried to explain an individual’s chances of winning (which was 1 in 292.2 million).
Some analysts pointed out that you’d be four times more likely to be killed by an asteroid than to have a winning ticket. Others noted that you’d have a better chance of becoming president, getting struck by lightning or winning an Olympic gold medal. In fact, to win any lottery often involves dismal chances, averaging about 1 in 100 million.
If only those were the same odds as getting hit by identity theft.
Unfortunately, even though people may think this type of criminal activity is somewhat rare, identity theft statistics show that your chances of being affected might be much higher than you think. This is especially true if you’re in a high-risk group, like those affected by data breaches or living in certain states.
By the Numbers
Consider these identity theft statistics:
- In 2010, data breach victims had a 1-in-9 chance of being affected by identity theft. But now your chances are 1-in-3 if your information has been part of a breach.
- Just over 17 million people in the United States age 16 or older were victims of at least one incident of identity theft in 2014 (this represents about 7 percent of the adult population). The most common type of identity theft is the unauthorized use of existing accounts, like credit card and bank accounts.
- Those between the ages of 20 and 29 have the highest odds of becoming identity theft victims — a nearly 1-in-5 chance.
- Medical identity theft, the fastest growing form of identity theft, increased by about 22 percent in 2014. Just over 2 million people have reported medical identity theft incidents (as of last year).
- Geography can make a difference in your odds of being affected by identity theft. The top five states for complaints are Florida, Washington, Oregon, Missouri, and Georgia.
- Every hour in the United States, there are 74 robberies — but nearly 2,000 identity theft incidents.
In other words, if your chances of winning the lottery were as good as getting hit by identity theft, then you should buy a ticket every day.
Changing the Odds
Although we can’t help you secure a future Powerball prize, we can offer some thoughts on changing your odds when it comes to identity theft statistics.
Some good prevention tactics include changing passwords regularly, being cautious when putting personal information on social media and checking your bank and credit accounts frequently to spot fraudulent transactions.
Another helpful addition to your protection strategies is having a monitoring service like IdentityForce, which constantly looks for suspicious activity, issues alerts if any come up and offers assistance with recovery if needed. No one wants to be the next identity theft victim, so put some tactics into place now to better your odds.