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Resources > Education Center > New York Identity Theft—Everything You Need To Know

New York Identity Theft—Everything You Need To Know

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America, and New York is emerging as a hotspot for this activity due to its dense population and large number of financial institutions. In New York, thousands of people each year incur millions of dollars in losses as a result of identity theft.

While these numbers are alarming, the good news is there are steps you can take to reduce the risk and catch identity theft early. To help you protect yourself and your loved ones from this vicious crime, this comprehensive guide on New York identity theft will help you learn how identity thieves operate, how to spot the warning signs, and what your rights are under state law.

New York Identity Theft Statistics

New York is a growing target for identity theft due to its population density and extensive reliance on technology. A particularly prevalent version of this crime in the state is child identity theft—according to New York’s Secretary of State Robert J Rodriguez, the likelihood of children falling victim to identity theft is 35 times higher than for adults. Identity thieves find children’s untapped credit histories appealing because they can use them to create new, fake identities or conceal serious crimes, including those committed by sex offenders.

Besides child identity theft, New Yorkers experience various other forms of this crime. The following table shows New York identity theft report numbers by type as of June this year, according to the Federal Trade Commission ( FTC):

Type of Identity FraudTotal Identity Fraud Reports
Credit card fraud6,260
Other identity theft2,839
Loan or lease fraud1,882
Bank fraud1,650
Phone or utility fraud1,074
Employment or tax-related fraud1,000
Government documents or benefits fraud966

As seen from the statistics above, credit card fraud in New York surpasses other categories by a significant margin. Although instances of loan or lease fraud, bank fraud, and other forms of identity theft are also common, they occur less frequently. 

These numbers also show that individuals committing these crimes target a range of sectors, including finance, employment, and government benefits—an indication that there are vulnerabilities across platforms and systems.

Main Ways Identity Theft Happens in New York

As a center of finance, culture, and technology, New York opens up both prospects and potential risks. To fully comprehend identity theft risks, check out the below techniques that criminals employ to get their hands on the personal information of New York residents:

Phishing and spear phishing attacksCybercriminals employ emails to deceive individuals into disclosing information, with spear phishing targeting specific people or organizations
SkimmingThieves use special devices to capture card information from individuals using ATMs or gas station pumps
Company data breachesHackers infiltrate databases, exposing substantial amounts of consumer information
Malware and ransomware infectionsHarmful software infiltrates a user’s device, either directly stealing data or encrypting it for ransom
Mail theft or dumpster divingOffenders steal information by intercepting mail or rummaging through trash for discarded documents containing sensitive data
Unauthorized access to online accountsIntruders exploit stolen credentials to gain access to personal or financial online accounts
Physical theftDirect theft of items like wallets or purses grants identity criminals physical access to financial information
Gathering information from social media oversharingIdentity thieves find exploitable information that’s been recklessly shared on social media platforms

Where To Go if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft in New York

If you suspect that you or a member of your family have become targets or victims of identity theft in New York, you should report the situation to various organizations to safeguard your identity. Here are four primary types of institutions you should contact immediately:

  1. FTC—Submit a report by visiting IdentityTheft.gov or calling the toll-free number 1-877-382-4357. FTC offers a plan of action for victims of identity theft, which includes guidance on protecting yourself and recovering from the impact
  2. Local police department—File a report with your local police department in New York. This creates a record of identity theft, which is vital for disputing fraudulent charges and rectifying any damage to your credit history
  3. Credit reporting agencies—Notify all three credit reporting agencies and request that they place a fraud alert on your credit report. Here are the main customer support numbers you can call:
  1. Your financial institutions—Contact your bank, credit card companies, and any other financial institutions where you hold accounts that may have been compromised. Request them to freeze or lock your accounts and issue new cards or account numbers if necessary

New York State Identity Theft Protection Laws

With the increase in identity theft cases, the state of New York has taken measures to combat identity theft and safeguard its residents by implementing laws and provisions that specifically address this crime. Here are the three key identity theft laws in New York:

  1. New York Penal LawNew York Penal Law Article 190 covers a range of fraud-related crimes. It includes offenses like criminal possession of stolen property, identity theft, and unlawful possession of personal identification information
  2. The Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) Act—First enacted in 2019, the act has since expanded the range of information it applies to. It also includes types of breaches that require notification and introduces data security obligations for businesses
  3. New York General Business Law—Includes provisions related to protecting consumer information and online privacy

Identity Theft Penalties Under New York Law

If you’re an identity theft victim in New York, it’s important to understand the penalties perpetrators may face under state law so you know what to expect from the remediation process. New York has some of the strictest laws against identity theft in the U.S., allowing for both civil and criminal charges. The table below provides an overview of the penalties for identity theft in New York, breaking down what they encompass both in civil and criminal contexts:

Identity Theft PenaltyWhat It Entails
Civil penaltiesIdentity thieves in New York may be liable for actual damages incurred by the victim, such as financial losses or costs to repair credit. They can also face additional statutory damages of up to $5,000 per violation
Criminal penaltiesIdentity theft is prosecuted as a felony in New York and can result in jail time for the perpetrators, plus fines

The severity of the penalty depends on the value of the damages. Here’s a general breakdown of the penalties by degree:

  • First-degree identity theft/aggravated identity theft—Both are considered Class D felonies, and those found guilty could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. The financial consequences include fines reaching up to $5,000 or potentially double their earnings from committing offenses
  • Second-degree identity theft—As a Class E felony, this offense may result in the individuals convicted facing imprisonment for up to four years. The accompanying financial penalty can be as high as $5,000 or double the amount they profited from their criminal activities
  • Third-degree identity theft—Sentences can reach up to one year in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines

How Common Is Identity Theft in New York?

Unfortunately, identity theft is more common in New York than in the majority of other states in the U.S. In fact, the state ranks 15th in the U.S. for identity theft, with over 60,000 cases reported in 2022 alone—and child identity theft makes up a sizable portion of these cases.

Child identity theft is a growing concern that deserves special attention. Often an overlooked group in this context, children are increasingly becoming victims. Here are three reasons why child identity theft is particularly alarming:

  1. Clean slate—Children generally have a clean credit history, which makes them attractive targets for fraudsters looking to financially exploit them
  2. Delayed detection—Child identity theft often goes unnoticed until the child reaches adulthood and starts applying for credit cards or loans. By then, the damage is extensive, and rectifying it takes time and effort
  3. Long-term impact—The consequences of child identity theft can be long-lasting, affecting a child’s ability to secure student loans, rent an apartment, or even find employment in the future

According to a report published by Javelin Strategy & Research, about 1.7 million children in the U.S. fell victim to identity theft in 2022, costing the average U.S. family $372 out-of-pocket. This nationwide data highlights the seriousness of the issue.

How To Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

To safeguard your child against identity theft, it’s important to be vigilant and stay informed about the threats and protection strategies. This includes taking action to prevent identity theft and monitoring for signs that your child’s personal information has been compromised. Here are four essential steps you can take to protect your child’s identity:

  1. Be wary of scams
  2. Secure personal documents
  3. Use secure and encrypted connections 
  4. Monitor credit reports

Be Wary of Scams

Watch out for phishing emails, malicious links, and phone calls asking for your child’s personal information. Legitimate companies won’t ask for sensitive data like Social Security numbers (SSNs), account numbers, or passwords over the phone or via email. It’s especially important to also teach your child to be suspicious of unsolicited requests for information as an extra precaution step.

Secure Personal Documents

Lock up physical records like Social Security cards, bank statements, and medical insurance cards. Shred all documents containing your child’s personal information before throwing them out to stop them from getting into the wrong hands.

When it comes to any accounts concerning your child, it’s crucial to create unique passwords. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters for an added layer of security. You should also consider activating two-factor authentication (2FA) for your accounts, as this additional layer of security goes beyond a password that can be hacked.

Use Secure and Encrypted Connections

Ensure that your home Wi-Fi network is password-protected with encryption for connections. It’s best to refrain from utilizing public Wi-Fi when engaging in transactions or accessing any of your or your child’s personal data. For added security, consider utilizing a VPN when accessing sensitive information on public networks.

Monitor Credit Reports

Check your child’s credit reports annually to ensure there are no fraudulent accounts opened in their name. Under federal law, you can request free annual credit reports on behalf of your child from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Look for unknown accounts or incorrect personal information that could indicate identity theft. 

If you haven’t opened an account for your child, but they appear to have a credit history, this could indicate that someone is using their personal information for fraudulent purposes. However, catching fraud quickly can help limit the damage—you can request a credit freeze for children under 16 to lock access to their credit reports, but note that this method is not foolproof.

If you’re looking for a way to monitor your child’s identity and ensure their future financial stability at the same time, FreeKick by Austin Capital Bank is your best option.

FreeKick—Identity Monitoring for You and Your Children

FreeKick provides a combination of an FDIC-insured deposit account and additional services. It allows parents to invest in their children’s future while also ensuring their personal information is being monitored.

This way, FreeKick provides a solution that addresses two primary concerns for parents and their children—child identity fraud protection and credit profile building.

FreeKick’s Identity Monitoring Services (Coming Soon)

To help you rest assured your child is safe from child identity theft, FreeKick presents an array of services designed to notably diminish the threat of such offenses. It can help safeguard the identity of two parents and six children aged between 0 and 25.

You can rely on the following five FreeKick services for protecting adult children and parents:

  • Credit profile monitoring
  • Social Security number monitoring
  • Dark web monitoring for personal information
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
  • Lost wallet protection
  • Court records monitoring
  • Change of address monitoring
  • Non-credit (Payday) loan monitoring
  • Free FICO® Score monthly
  • FICO® Score factors
  • Experian credit report monthly

Identity protection services for minors include:

  • Credit profile monitoring
  • Social Security number monitoring
  • Dark web monitoring for children’s personal information
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
  • Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

Credit Building and Monitoring (Coming Soon)

A strong credit profile can help your child save over $200,000 throughout adulthood, and FreeKick lets them get an early start through parent-sponsored credit building. 

Here is what the process entails. Once you open an account, you Activate Credit Building

If your child is already an adult, credit reporting will start within three months after opening the account. If they are a minor, they can activate credit reporting once they turn 18 (19 in Alabama) by selecting Activate Credit Reporting.

Once credit reporting is activated, a credit account for $1,000 will be reported to all three major consumer credit bureaus:

  1. Experian
  2. Equifax
  3. TransUnion

The report will include the account opening date, amount of credit, type of credit, and last 24 months of payment history, jumpstarting your child’s credit score. 

At the end of the 12-month term, you can keep building your child’s credit profile by renewing the account. You can also close it and get 100% of your deposit back.

Note that your child’s credit history can only be reported to credit bureaus if they’re a legal adult because credit bureaus don’t allow it for underage children. This is why minors must go through the process of activating credit reporting upon reaching adulthood. With this in mind, if you close the account early while the child is still a minor, no credit can ever be reported for the account.

FreeKick’s Diverse Plans—Pick One That Aligns With Your Budget

With FreeKick, you have various options to choose from depending on your needs and budget. Here’s a quick breakdown:

FDIC-Insured Deposit AmountAnnual Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)

FreeKick’s deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.

To secure your child’s financial future by cultivating a strong credit profile and shield them from identity fraud risks, join FreeKick today.