As many as 10 million Americans a year are victims of identity theft. In 2013 and 2014, the Identity Theft Resource Center surveyed victims of identity theft and reported the findings in a paper called The Aftermath Study. These results are a good estimate of the effects of identity theft on its victims and the types of identity theft crimes that are committed:
Discovery of Victimization
- 38-48% of victims find out about the identity theft within 3 months of it starting
- 9-18% of victims take 4 years or longer to discover that they are victims of identity theft
Time Involved in Being a Victim
- Victims spend from 3 to 5,840 hours repairing damage done by identity theft. This difference is due to the severity of the crime – for example a lost credit card versus the use of your social security number to become your “evil twin.” Victims of identity theft feel helpless and many of them aren’t familiar with the tools and resources available to reclaim their identity. The average number of hours victims spend repairing the damage caused by identity theft is 330 hours.
- 26-32% of victims spend a period of 4 to 6 months dealing with their case and 11-23% report dealing with their case for 7 months to a year.
Monetary Costs of Identity Theft
- 40% of business costs for individual cases of identity theft exceed $15,000. The Aberdeen Group has estimated that $221 billion a year is lost by businesses worldwide due to identity theft
- Victims lose an average of $1,820 to $14, 340 in wages dealing with their cases
- Victims spend an average of $851 to $1378 in expenses related to their case
Practical and Emotional Costs of Identity Theft
- 47% of victims have trouble getting credit or a loan as a result of identity theft
- 19% of victims have higher credit rates and 16% have higher insurance rates because of identity theft
- 11% of victims say identity theft has a negative impact on their abilities to get jobs
- 70% of victims have trouble getting rid of (or never get rid of) negative information in their records
- 40% of victims experience stress in their family lives as a result of displaced anger and frustration over the identity theft
- 45% of victims feel denial or disbelief
- 85% of victims anger and rage
- 45% of victims feel defiled by the identity thief
- 42% of victims feel an inability to trust people because of the identity theft
- 60% of victims feel unprotected by the police
Uses of Victim Information
- More than one third of victims report that identity thieves committed cheque account fraud.
- 66% of victims’ personal information is used to open a new credit account in their name
- 28% of victims’ personal information is used to purchase cell phone service
- 12% of victims end up having warrants issued in their name for financial crimes committed by the identity thief
Impostor Characteristics and Relationships to the Victim
- 43% of victims believe they know the person who stole their identity
- 14-25% of victims believe the impostor is someone who is in a business that holds their personally identifying information
- The most common reported perpetrator in cases where a child’s identity is stolen is the child’s parent
- 16% of identity theft victims are also victims of domestic harassment/abuse by the same perpetrator. These victims believe that the identity theft is used as another way for the abuser to continue and demonstrate his harassment and control.
Responsiveness to victims
- Overall, police departments seem to be the most responsive to victims of identity theft, with 58% taking down a report on the victim’s first request
- 1/3 of victims have to send dispute information repeatedly to credit reporting agencies
- Only 1/5 of victims find it easy to reach someone in a credit reporting agency after receiving their credit report
- 20% of victims will have the misinformation and errors removed from their credit report after their first request for the credit reporting agency to do so.