State comptroller says ID thefts surged amid pandemic in 2020, urges safeguards

Identity thefts in New York have surged during the pandemic with more than 67,000 complaints filed statewide in 2020 — 85% more than the previous year and more than four times the annual total from a decade earlier, according to a new report released last week.

The report from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, which contains Federal Trade Commission data, indicated that credit card fraud was the most frequently reported type of identity theft in the state, with nearly 25,000 New Yorkers reporting their information had been misused on an existing credit card account or to open a new account.

During 2020, more than 3,600 identity theft reports related to COVID-19 were reported in the state, with two-thirds of those related to unemployment insurance or other government benefit programs, according to the report. Identity thieves also used individuals’ personally identifiable information for a variety of other purposes, including fraudulently obtaining medical services, prescription drugs or medical insurance coverage.

 “Federal and state agencies, along with independent consumer advocacy organizations, urge individuals to aggressively safeguard Social Security numbers, credit card and bank account numbers, birthdates and other personal private information that can be used in identity theft,” the report stated.

The report, “The Increasing Threat of Identity Theft,” can be accessed on the comptroller’s website.

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