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What's Behind the 47% Increase in Identity Theft?

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According to the Federal Trade Commission, 2015 saw a 47% increase in identity theft in the United States.  The biggest contributor, it was announced, was tax fraud.

The FTC reported receiving over 490,000 complaints about identity theft in 2015, which was an increase of 47% over 2014's numbers.  Those numbers are in line with a report released by the IRS showing an increase in identity theft related to tax fraud.

We've reported on tax fraud before, but in case you're not up on the scam, tax return fraud happens when a person uses someone else's personal information to file an income tax return and collect the refund.  The information can be gleaned from many sources, but internet black markets are a common one.  People often aren't aware of the fraud until they file their own taxes and are told that they've already been filed.  The easiest way to avoid being a victim of this particular scam is to file as early as possible, thereby beating the thief to the punch.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez highlighted increased efforts by the government to reduce fraud and help victims.  A website,, has been updated and streamlined in order to help identity theft victims report crimes and find resources to get personalized help with figuring out what to do.