The COVID-19 pandemic has brought heightened concerns of fraud for Americans, and for good reason. Ten percent of U.S. adults have reported being a victim of identity theft since the onset of the pandemic, according to a new survey.
More than eight in 10 adults (83%) said they have been concerned about having their identity stolen, and the level of distress over this crime occurring has increased for nearly one-third of them (32%) in 2020, the survey of 2,108 U.S. adults, conducted by the public sector business of TransUnion on Aug. 11, found.
Younger adults have been targeted by fraudsters the most, according to the survey. Of the Gen Zers (those born in 1995 or after) surveyed, 16% said they were a victim of identity theft; 15% said they had a government account taken over by someone else, compared to 7% for all generations; and 16% reported being a victim of unemployment benefits fraud, followed by millennials (those born from 1980 to 1994) at 8% and all generations at 7%. The vast majority of respondents who have been a victim of unemployment benefits fraud have not resolved the problem, TransUnion noted.
What’s more, 13% of Gen Z respondents said they had their 2019 tax return fraudulently filed, compared to 7% of all respondents; and 12% of Gen Zers had their stimulus check stolen, versus 6% of all respondents.
“Our findings make it abundantly clear that the youngest adults are being targeted most by fraudsters,” Jonathan McDonald, EVP of TransUnion’s public sector business unit, said in a press release. “This is also one of the most vulnerable populations with many just beginning their careers. At the same time, these individuals also are tech savvy with the most substantive online profiles, and that’s why it’s critical for government agencies to provide secure, yet convenient opportunities for this population to confirm their identity accurately.”
The TransUnion survey also revealed that of the adults surveyed:
- More than 43% said both security and convenience are equally important to them when accessing their government accounts;
- Approximately 26% said security is more important, while 22% said convenience is more essential; and
- 11% said they were not sure if they have or have not been a victim of identity theft.