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Identity Theft and Financial Fraud

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Description

Self-report survey responses, collected through the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), are the BJS primary source of information on identity theft and financial fraud.

Identity Theft

The definition of identity theft in the NCVS includes three general types of incidents:

  • unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account
  • unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account
  • misuse of personal information for a fraudulent purpose.

Reports examining identity theft victimization at the person level use data from the Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the NCVS.The supplement collects data from all NCVS respondent age 16 or older about experiences with identity theft.

Reports examining identity theft victimization at the household level use data from the core NCVS, in which the head of the household reports on the experiences with identity theft of all household members age 12 or older.

Financial Fraud

The Supplemental Fraud Survey (SFS) collects individual-level data on the prevalence of seven types of personal financial fraud victimization, the characteristics of financial fraud victims, and the patterns of reporting to police and other authorities.

Terms & Definitions

Financial fraud

In the National Crime Victimization Survey's Supplemental Fraud Survey, financial fraud is defined as acts that “intentionally and knowingly deceive the victim by misrepresenting, concealing, or omitting facts about promised goods, services, or other benefits and consequences that are nonexistent, unnecessary, never intended to be provided, or deliberately distorted for the purpose of monetary gain.” (See Stanford Center on Longevity. (2015). Framework for a taxonomy of fraud. https://longevity.stanford.edu/framework-for-a-taxonomy-of-fraud/)

Fraud

The intentional misrepresentation of information or identity to deceive others, the unlawful use of a credit or debit card or ATM, or the use of electronic means to transmit deceptive information, in order to obtain money or other things of value. Fraud may be committed by someone inside or outside the business. Includes instances in which a computer was used to defraud the business of money, property, financial documents, insurance policies, deeds, use of rental cars, or various services by forgery, misrepresented identity, credit card or wire fraud. Excludes incidents of embezzlement.

Identity theft

Includes one or more of three types of incidents: (1) unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account, (2) unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account, or (3) misuse of personal information for a fraudulent purpose. Person level identity theft is captured in the Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). From 2004 to 2010, household level identity theft was captured by the main NCVS.