With Identity Fraud in Focus, learn from the fraud patterns we’ve analyzed over the last quarter. That way, experts, organizations, and consumers can stay informed about emerging threats online.

Key discoveries:

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3 scam trends to keep an eye on in Q4

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Top identity identity theft and fraud crimes from Q3

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Student loan forgiveness scams are booming

3 scam trends to keep an eye on in Q4

Criminals thrive during periods of volatility. With inflation, fears of a global recession, and the holiday shopping season here, fraud is expected to increase.

Watch out for holiday scams

Scammers work year round, but when the holiday season begins, they go into overdrive. From fake online retailers and bogus social media accounts promising deals too good to be true, to fictitious charities trying to lure victims into sending money or sharing personal info, it’s more important than ever to keep your guard up this time of year.

“Consumers have to be really careful over the holidays,” said Allstate Identity Protection Director of Customer Care Brian Stuart. “Watch out for prices that seem impossibly low, make sure to only shop on secure sites, and always embrace a healthy skepticism.”

Quick takeaways


of U.S. adults plan to purchase holiday gifts online this season1


of U.S. adults have been victimized by online shopping scams in the past1

Gift card scams are expected to rise

Gift cards are hot-ticket items for holiday shoppers because they’re easy to buy, and allow recipients the freedom to purchase what they want. They’re also popular with scammers because they’re virtually impossible to trace.

40,000 consumers reported losing $148 million to gift card scams in the first nine months of 2021, more than all of 2020, according to the FTC.2

Gift card scams typically involve an “urgent call” from someone pretending to be from a government agency, public utility, or a company you do business with. The caller claims there’s a past due amount, and warns that something bad will happen, like service being cut off, if you don’t send gift card payment immediately. Once the card number and PIN code are shared, the money is gone forever.

“If someone asks for gift card payment, you can safely assume it’s a scam,” says Allstate Identity Protection Senior Vice President of Operations Doug Kaplan. “No legitimate business or government agency will ask you to make payments with a retail gift card.”

Quick takeaways

73 million

U.S. consumers have experienced some kind of gift card fraud3


of U.S adults have been contacted to buy gift cards to pay a false debt, bill, or fee3

Teenagers are increasingly vulnerable to online scams

From 2017 to 2021, there was a 1,126% increase in money lost to online scams among victims under 20, according to Social Catfish’s State Of Internet Scams 2022 Report,4 using data released by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).5 6

Young people make attractive targets for cybercriminals — despite having fewer financial assets and generally being regarded as tech savvy — because they don’t always recognize the signs of an online scam.6

“Teenagers increasingly want to show their independence, and scammers exploit that. That’s why educating kids about the dangers of digital life is so important, so parents can protect their children from online scams,” says Allstate Identity Protection Vice President of Product Lewis Bertolucci.

Quick takeaways


of teenagers say they use the internet daily7


of teenagers who were exposed to online scams fell for them8

Top identity theft and fraud crimes from Q3 2022

In Q3, we saw account takeovers increase 19% year over year, but the restoration dollars we helped members save go down. So fraudsters casted a wide net, but we were able to move quickly to help members stop the compromises before more financial damage could be done.

We've also seen government and tax fraud surge nearly 348% year over year, fueled by the onslaught of fraudulent disability insurance claims in California during the pandemic. And because tax fraud can take up to 180 days to resolve, cases remain high.

On the plus side, SBA Fraud — another form of government benefits fraud that increased during the pandemic — is now down nearly 88%.

Finally, fraudulent credit inquiries are up 44%. These are unauthorized applications for credit that indicate someone is attempting to use stolen personal information.

Case type

Q3 YoY growth*

Unauthorized credit inquiry fraud


Criminal theft


Account takeover fraud


Medical fraud


Government/tax fraud


SBA fraud (combined)


*normalized to account for total subscriber growth

Student loan forgiveness scams are booming

With the announcement of a one-time federal student loan debt relief plan in August 2022, call centers, and loan services have been flooded with inquiries from confused borrowers, according to the FTC.9 Now that the program has been blocked by federal courts, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court, there’s more confusion than ever.

Misinformation is rampant online, with some loan holders turning to TikTok and Facebook to seek answers.10 Scammers are exploiting the situation by calling borrowers directly. They’re promising to help get a student loan discharge, forgiveness, cancellation, or debt relief for a fee if the borrower “acts fast.” These are scams.

“You don’t have to pay anyone to obtain debt relief. The application from the Department of Education is free and you can do it all yourself,” says Allstate Identity Protection Restoration Manager Vera Tolmachoff.

Quick takeaways


of borrowers have applied or plan to apply for the Student Loan Debt Relief Program1


of student loan scam targets report being contacted at least once a week1

About Identity Fraud in Focus

With insights from millions of identity theft cases since the start of 2021, Identity Fraud in Focus provides the knowledge families need to stay safer online.

“Now more than ever, people need extra information, guidance, and support to navigate today’s threats to their security and privacy — so they can keep their families safe,” says Dustin Hofstein, Chief Service Officer of Allstate Identity Protection. “That’s why our quarterly Identity Fraud in Focus report is so important, so consumers, experts, and the media understand the latest digital threats. And what people can do to live more secure lives.”