How does identity crime affect victims?

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has published a research that shows nearly 40 percent of ITRC victims say their personal information was stolen, compromised or misused in the past year.

The report goes beyond the known financial implications of identity crimes and explores the lost opportunities as well as the emotional, physical and psychological impacts experienced by victims resulting from the crimes.

For the report, the ITRC surveyed victims who contacted the ITRC and victims who did not. According to the responses, the number of repeat identity crime victims dropped year-over-year among victims. However, half of the general victims surveyed claim to have been victimized more than once. Also, victims experienced more complex attacks that require longer to resolve. The percentage of “unresolved cases from the previous year” has grown from 37 percent to 55 percent since 2020.

Other key takeaways

  • Overall, identity crime victims are losing less money. Most ITRC victims and general victims report losing less than $500. However, one group of ITRC victims grew from 9 percent in 2020 to 30 percent in 2021 – those victims who lost $10,000 or more.
  • The number of ITRC victims who reported experiencing negative emotions increased in 2021 to 87 percent from 79 percent in the previous year, while the number of ITRC victims who reported physical impacts jumped from 44 percent to 68 percent in one year. Two-thirds of general victims reported emotional and physical effects of being an identity crime victim.
  • The number of ITRC victims who have changed their behaviors due to an identity crime dropped slightly overall and in five of seven possible actions. More victims reported freezing their credit and using an Identity Protection PIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when filing taxes.

“Some of the comments in the report are heartbreaking,” said Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

“One victim told us their life was ruined after discovering that someone stole more than $200,000 in their name. Another victim expressed their frustration that no one appeared to care.”

The ITRC has seen one type of attack grow by over 1,000 percent in the last 12 months – social media account takeover. The report includes the results of a snap survey of victims who reported a social media account takeover. According to the victims who responded to the micro-survey:

  • 85 percent had their Instagram accounts compromised; 25 percent had their Facebook account compromised.
  • 48 percent clicked on a link they believed was from a friend; 22 percent responded to a cryptocurrency scam.
  • 27 percent of victims lost personal funds or sales revenue when their account was compromised.
  • 70 percent have been permanently locked out of their social media account; 71 percent contacted friends listed in the social media account; 67 percent report the criminal continued to post as the account owner after the lockout.
  • 66 percent of victims report having a strong emotional reaction to losing control of their social media account, including feeling violated (92 percent), feeling worried or anxious (83 percent), angry (78 percent), vulnerable (77 percent) and suicidal (7 percent).

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