When most of us think of identity theft, we think of the targeting of celebrities and socialites of the world–people with outstanding lines of credit and bank accounts that rival Bill Gates’. Well, what happens to those who are far from having a millionaire’s salary? What happens to ordinary, everyday people who become victims of identity theft?
A new study by the Identity Theft Resource Center took a 300-person survey from those who have used their free services starting from this year. The study showed that up to 50% of those people were moderate to low income earners. While individuals in these income brackets aren’t victims as often, they feel the most damage from these attacks.
“While it doesn’t hit these demographic segments more frequently, it does hit them harder because they lack the extra time and money often required to resolve identity theft problems. The big ‘aha moment’ is that identity theft is affecting all of us, even if you’re not a victim,” President and CEO of ITRC Eva Velasquez stated.
It doesn’t stop at just these ‘middle’ income earners; it trickles down to the ones who help them recover, as well. The study also showed that the majority of these income median earners sought relief from family and friends, welfare benefits, and a number of faith-based charities.
The study showed that 35% of the ITRC’s users reported having to barrow money more than once, 25% were forced to sell some or all of their belongings, and 23% actually had to move and relocate with family or friends. Around 20% of users reported that more than significant damage was done in direct correlation with becoming victims of identity theft. 24% reported that they had actually lost their jobs as a result.
Also, the report stated that 44% of the victims claimed some kind of government-related fraud. Most commonly mentioned were Federal and State tax fraud, which were up by 15% at the time the Survey was taken. In addition to this, many of the recipients reported not receiving refunds that were issued to them.
Among the 300 surveyed, 60% of victims reported new account fraud, which is 6% higher this year. Mostly new credit cards, utility accounts, and mobile phone service accounts were reported.
Velasquez issued a final statement, in which she said:
The survey responses provide a comprehensive picture of the true impact of this crime on its victims and confirms that identity theft creates more than just financial hardship for victims; it has the capacity to invade many other areas of their lives. Identity theft can negatively impact employment, housing, and educational opportunities. A lot of people think it won’t happen to them. A common remark from victims is, “I don’t even have good credit, so what would they want from me?” In fact, nothing could be more off base. As a nation, we don’t treat our uncompromised identities as valuable. We’re worried much more about credit cards.
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