What Does Fraud Actually Do to its Victims?

In honor of International Fraud Awareness Week (November 12-18), a worldwide event which serves to get the word out about fraud and its related crimes, organizations are working to help consumers and businesses understand not just the things they can do to minimize their risk of identity theft, but also the very serious ways that being a victim can hurt you.

When most people think of identity theft, they think of bank accounts being wiped out or tanking credit scores. However, the damage from this kind of crime isn’t just financial, and it can impact practically every aspect of your life, from home to work as well as your physical and mental wellbeing. For more than a decade, the Identity Theft Resource Center has compiled the Identity Theft: The Aftermath report, which surveys victims who have previously contacted the nonprofit organization about their identity theft problems. The report provides a unique snapshot into just how devastating the impact of this crime can be on its victims.

This year’s Aftermath report uncovered some interesting findings regarding the emotional impact experienced by victims of identity theft. Of the respondents, nearly 25 percent stated that they sought professional assistance to help manage the emotional and physical symptoms they suffered as a result of this crime. In addition to these victims, 13 percent of those who experienced an emotional impact said they would have sought assistance, but were unable to afford it. This isn’t surprising as 75 percent of the participants reported that they were severely distressed over the misuse or attempted misuse of their personal information.

In addition to the emotional impact, the report also discovered various lost opportunity costs victims experienced when they became a victim. For example, nearly one-third of respondents indicated they spent time away from other life experiences, like hobbies or a vacation, to deal with the fallout from their cases. More than 25 percent of respondents indicated they had to borrow money from family or friends. Some respondents reported having to take time off work or spending time away from family (both at 22 percent) while others found it necessary to relocate or move or sell possessions (both at 15.3 percent).

These examples not only further illustrate the devastations caused by identity theft but also serve as a reminder of the importance in protecting your personal information and ultimately your identity. Knowing all of this about the impact of identity theft should encourage you to protect yourself.

Fraud Awareness Week is the perfect time to start thinking about how you can minimize your risks all year long. By better understanding the nature of fraud and the likelihood that it will strike, you can be prepared to reduce your risk and take immediate action if it does occur. Just by familiarizing yourself with the threat and the methods can make a world of difference when it comes to the fight against identity theft.

LexisNexis proudly provides financial support to the Identity Theft Resource Center.