16 Daunting Data Theft Statistics for 2021

Data has become a significant commodity in modern times. The rate at which we share, input and use our data to interact with the digital world is ever increasing, and there are a lot of reasons why both companies and individuals alike are interested in accessing it (some more legally than others). 

Data theft is the stealing of confidential information from personal computers, servers, or other devices. Data theft statistics reveal that cybercriminals are advancing in tandem with digital technology, developing new and more complex ways to breach privacy and steal data for monetary benefit. 

Perhaps the primary reason why this continues to be possible is the lack of awareness about data theft. Unaware users are targeted every day, and criminals are successful simply because people don’t know the signs and tell of a cyber attack. 

Data and Identity Theft Statistics: Editor’s Pick

  • 1.4 million cases of identity theft happened in 2020
  • There was a 161% increase in the number of credit card fraud cases from 2015 to 2020
  • 47% of Americans have been victims of credit card fraud
  • Approximately 65,826 reported identity theft scams related to COVID-19 have happened up to May 2021
  • 60% of people would rather use a public restroom than they would connect to public Wi-Fi
  • 68% of businesses believe the risk of cyber attacks is growing
  • The longest insider attack in US history took place over a span of 30 years

Data Theft Stats: Impact and Awareness

1. There were 1.4 million cases of identity theft in 2020.

(FTC)

Identity theft isn’t a new crime, but the number of cases has been sharply rising in recent years as the world turns to digital life to conduct daily activities. 

As the FTC 2020 report tells us, there were 4.7 million reported cases of fraud in 2020, 29% of which were instances of identity theft. Identity theft statistics show that this is over 1 million more cases than the FTC ever received in 2019, pointing to a striking increase. 

2. In 2020, 43,211 Kansas citizens filed identity theft reports.

(FTC)

Of all the states, Kansas ranked as having the highest reported data theft incidents per capita in 2020, with as many as 1,483 such reports for every 100,000 citizens.

Looking further into identity theft statistics by state, we can see that Rhode Island was the runner-up with 1,191 reports per 100,000 people. 

Notably, younger people were more likely to report being victimized by financial fraud than older people, indicating that while these generations are more tech-savvy, they are not as vigilant with their security. 

3. Around 37 billion records became compromised in 2020.

(TechRepublic)

It is becoming increasingly clear to the world that data theft prevention should be a top priority. Interestingly, the volume of data breaches fell noticeably in 2020 by around 48%, but the overall number of compromised records soared by 141%. 

This attests that individual data breaches have become much more damaging, even if the frequency of successful attacks has lowered. 

4. 68% of businesses think their risk of cyber attacks is growing.

(Accenture)

Based on data breach statistics for 2021, many businesses think they’re under greater risk from the cyber threat than ever before.

Even more alarming is that few businesses seem to be responding to this concern. Almost 80% of companies are rolling out online innovations faster than they can provide security measures. 

5. 38% of identity theft victims in 2020 closed their bank accounts.

(Payment Cards & Mobile)

In 2020, banking companies scrambled to adapt their business models online to the new COVID-19 social distancing measures leaving plenty of openings for identity thieves to exploit.

Perhaps one of the more interesting facts about data theft, though they’re equally as alarming, is that the many victims of financial fraud during COVID-19 also were poorly responded to by the firms themselves. For example, almost one-third of bank account holders felt unhappy with the way their provider handled issues with their accounts.

Since financial organizations were still finding their footing, their countermeasures against identity theft were lackluster overall. Those falling victim to identity theft expected much more from their service providers, leaving a bitter enough taste in their mouths and closed their accounts.

Online Identity Theft and Security During COVID-19

8. Identity fraud losses during COVID-19 amounted to $43 billion in 2020.

(BusinessWire)

The coronavirus pandemic has made the impact of data theft even more prevalent, especially in identity theft cases. Due to a lack of time to adjust to a growing need for online platforms, many businesses were unable to screen vendors properly or provide good standards of authentication.

Fraud cost consumers $56 billion in 2020. A huge chunk of these losses came from online identity theft. In contrast, statistics for data theft show that traditional forms of identity theft were actually down during the pandemic, totaling just $13 billion in losses. 

(Tableau Public)

Cybercriminals avidly took advantage of the mass-panic caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Each day there are over one hundred reports of COVID-19 relief-related fraud attempts, and according to personal data theft statistics, between 2020 and May 2021, almost 300,000 cases of COVID-19 relief fraud were reported. 

January 1, 2021, was the most devastating, with 1,300 reports of coronavirus-related identity theft events. The second half of March 2021 was also troubling, with up to 400 reports per day.

This information primarily involved confidential health information, personal phone numbers and addresses, and medicare account numbers. 

What is the most common form of identity theft?

The most common type of identity theft is financial identity theft. Specifically, an existing account takeover is the most common way for criminals to access your information and use all of your existing financial accounts, such as credit cards, lines of credit, and bank accounts.

Especially as fintech and other platforms host more and more of our data, cybersecurity is the most integral protection against identity theft. 

Data on Credit Fraud and More

6. The number of credit card fraud cases increased by 161% from 2015 to 2020.

(CardRates)

Credit card fraud is one of the most common types of identity theft. With so many consumers shifting their shopping routines to online platforms, it has been steadily rising over the last fiveyears. 

In the first quarter of 2015, there were 17,236 reported cases of credit card fraud in the United States either through card-not-present fraud, account takeover, or actual credit card theft. By the first quarter of 2020, the cases rose to 45,120. 

7. 47% of Americans have fallen victim to credit card fraud.

(Security.org)

Credit card fraud appears to be the easiest form of fraud, as consumers regularly choose to use plastic, and many retail stores will accept swipes without pins or signatures under a certain amount.

With almost half of the population experiencing this type of fraud at one point or another and 18% experiencing it in the last two years, using proper security measures online with your credit card is more important than ever. 

Online Data Theft and Security: Employees and Internal Breaches

10. 68% of companies feel either moderately or extremely exposed to insider attacks.

(Gurucul)

Companies spend a lot of resources to repel cyber threats that occur from external entities. Attention to internal threats, however, is often overlooked. 

Due to this lack of attention, these attacks are notably on the rise. A startling 68% of organizations have noticed an increase in insider threats. As insider data theft statistics indicate, 56% of organizations reported that factors like cloud migration have made dealing with insider breaches even harder.

11. Every financial service employee has access to an average of 11 million files.

(Varonis)

It’s not just sinister internal activity that can cause breaches in cybersecurity. Employee error is an expected part of any position. Cybercriminals understand this and design techniques and programs designed to specifically exploit human error. 

As employee data theft statistics warn, each financial service worker has access to millions of files storing personal information. Employees in large organizations, even more so, access closer to 20 million. 

12. 46% of small businesses protect their data by limiting employee access to it.

(The Manifest)

Small businesses usually navigate a thin budget, so they have to come up with affordable solutions for their data protection strategies. According to private company data theft statistics, the second most favored method for protecting information is data encryption, with 44% of small companies opting for this method. 

Tying for third place, 34% of businesses create strong passwords and increase worker training.

Limiting employee access, however, is the leading way in which small companies protect their data. This prevents many potential threats for either accidental or sinister data leaks and keeps smaller businesses from investing in more expensive security software. 

How do you prevent data theft?

Basic cyber hygiene is as simple as using complex passwords that you change regularly to avoid hacking. Using a password generator and manager are great ways to use digital software to benefit and help you keep safe and remember your password. 

Avoiding using public WiFi, or at least avoiding inputting important passwords or credit card numbers while on these connections, prevents you from falling victim to criminals monitoring open connections.

Lastly, using updated cybersecurity software on your computer and remaining alert to phishing scams and suspicious emails and links will ensure that your data is as secure as possible. 

Fascinating Data Theft Stats 

13. 60% of people find it more dangerous to connect to public Wi-Fi than to go to public restrooms.

(Norton)

People are generally unaware of the full extent of cybercrime, which is a large part of why so many data breaches happen. Knowledge about the insecurity of public Wi-Fi connections, however, is becoming more mainstream. 

Some comparisons to real-life fears and cautions seem to drive the point home. Still, according to public Wi-Fi data theft statistics, almost a quarter of Americans have had their email hacked after using public WiFi. 

Protecting yourself online can come down to some basic cyber hygiene tips. Just like washing your hands after using the restroom, remembering not to log in to data sensitive accounts while using public WiFi can keep you from becoming one of the 12% of Americans who experienced financial data theft after shopping online.

14. An eBay hack in 2014 breached 145 million records.

(Yahoo)

While hackers target individuals and small companies, the real big fish is to compromise a large corporation. 

According to the facts on eBay data theft, a breach in 2014 compromised records containing data such as mailing and email addresses, birth dates, and other personal information. Luckily, due to the proper cybersecurity by the company, no financially sensitive information (such as credit cards) was exposed. 

15. The longest insider attack in US history took place from 1976 to 2006.

(FBI)

Dongfan ”Greg” Chung was charged with the longest insider attack ever recorded in the US. Over 30 years, Chung gathered trade secrets about the U.S. space program and sent the information to China.

Internal data theft statistics on the event show that he stole around $2 billion worth of data from Boeing during this time. The FBI discovered Greg’s involvement in 2010, and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

16. The Yahoo 2013 data breach leaked around 3 billion points of data.

(Statista)

The Yahoo data breach in 2013 is one of the biggest breaches in all of cyber history. Other examples of corporate data theft don’t come close to the amount of data cultivated from Yahoo, with Aadhaar losing 1.1 billion and Apollo with 500 million. 

Notably, the type of data that is stolen has an impact, too. While Yahoo lost the most data, most of the information included emails, phone numbers, addresses, and other personal details. Aadhaar, however, lost biometric information such as fingerprint and iris scans used to access bank accounts.

How do hackers get data?

Hackers can attain people’s data in a variety of ways. 

One of the more popular methods is phishing, wherein a hacker impersonates someone else to trick victims into clicking on a malicious link. Spear-phishing is the same method, only specifically crafted to target certain individuals rather than random people.

Cracking passwords and sneaking keyloggers into their computers to track keyboard activity are other widespread means for hackers to get a hold of data.

Data Theft Statistics: the Conclusion

Especially since the onset of coronavirus, cybercrime is becoming a major concern as the world turns on its screens and interacts virtually in more ways than ever before. 

From massive company data breaches that compromise millions of records to the epidemic of individual digital fraud attacks, the threat of data theft is as broad as it’s potent.

Understanding the extent of cybercrime problems, new methods of cybercriminals, and updating your cybersecurity software keeps identity thieves from easily breaching your data. 

Knowing the latest data theft statistics, changing passwords regularly, keeping off of public WiFi, and paying attention to suspicious links and emails are the simplest and most effective ways to keep your personal and financial information safe. 

There’s no going back to our paper society, so keeping yourself informed about data theft and ways to prevent it is just another hygiene practice you have to keep up with in the modern world. 

People Also Ask

Data theft is dangerous because it can reveal sensitive information about people or companies, leaving them vulnerable to exploiters. For instance, someone can impersonate you based on the personal data they stole from you and access your finances.

Alternatively, bad actors can leverage your private information as a form of extortion. This is often done through the form of ransomware which encrypts data, making you unable to access it until the thief lets you.

A hacker can use the data they’ve stolen in many different ways. In most cases, information is used to impersonate victims. They usually do this to take out loans or credit cards, commit frauds of various kinds, or withdraw money from your account.

Plenty of hackers will also sell the data they’ve stolen on the dark web, be it credit card information or names and email addresses.

Yes, hackers are perfectly capable of stealing phone data. They don’t even need to steal your phone and download malware themselves. Rather, they trick people into doing that themselves.

Hackers place viruses on websites that are designed to attack smartphones. They then trick people into tapping on links they see on their phones, after which they’re taken to websites containing malware links.

One thing businesses can do to safeguard data is to request photo identification prior to accepting credit cards or checks. This would work well as a means to verify the identity of the request sender.

They should also encrypt private information before storing or sending it and restrict worker access to data since many data breaches happen due to insiders.

The average identity theft costs the victim $1,343. Monetary loss is not the only consequence, however.

Identity theft can be difficult to correct, and recovering the damage done to one’s credit score and other reports can be devastating to your financial future.

Data theft statistics show that Identity theft is an alarmingly common crime, with almost half the U.S. population dealing with it at some point in their lives.

Even the simplest security measures, however, can help keep hackers out, so keeping vigilant and aware are definite ways to secure your data in this digital world.