Each year, the ITRC provides countless hours of victim assistance to help those who’ve been affected by identity theft. This help is intended to let victims regain some semblance of control over their personal identifiable information.
As part of that effort, the organization also compiles the annual Aftermath report based on extensive voluntary victim surveys. This report provides the industry with a clear picture of how identity theft affects individuals and what steps consumers take to recover their lives.
It’s unfortunate that one of the key findings of the report each year is that very little headway is being made in actually stopping the perpetrators of this type of crime. For every new security measure and every new piece of legislation—both of which do all they can to thwart and address identity theft—the thieves seem to stay one step ahead. While some of the tried and true methods of identity theft and scamming are still just as viable as ever, thieves continue to find new ways to wreak havoc with other people’s information.
What is hopeful, though, is the broader understanding of identity theft measures and the ways that consumers are paying closer attention to their PII. The days of blindly handing over one’s Social Security number or financial account information are limited, as more and more consumers are beginning to ask, “What do you need it for, and how will you protect it?” These types of preventive measures not only go a long way towards making a person seem like a less enticing target, but they’re easily shared through social media, blog posts, and news reports.
Unfortunately, what cannot be smoothed over so easily is the emotional toll that identity theft has on its victims. This is one of the crucial parts of the Aftermath survey, as the feelings of loss, mistrust, and violation are no small matter. Victim responses have been shockingly high in terms of explaining how hard it is to trust anyone again, and how helpless they feel just knowing that someone out there has access to their identities and can do practically anything they want with them.
The ITRC is currently conducting its Aftermath study on victims helped by the center in 2014. Victims who have been assisted by the center are being asked to give their voice to this crime. The findings will be used to further educate the industry on just what identity theft victims go through when dealing with the crime. Once the study is complete, a whitepaper will be released with the findings, which will be available on the ITRC website.