Wealthy or minimum wage, whether a baby or baby boomer, the “Aftermath Survey” by the Identity Theft Resource Center reveals you’re an ID-theft target.
That’s just the beginning of what I gathered Wednesday at Google’s Washington, D.C., headquarters where the survey was presented before its international release. The points in this column represent the very the latest on ID theft.
The ITRC surveys victims who have reached out for support. This data helps the identity theft industry better understand root causes, illicit methods and the recovery experience. I conduct similar fact-finding each quarter from large organizations as co-chair of the Merchants ID Theft Advisory Board, which includes leaders from Avnet, KPMG, Cox Communications, the FBI and several other organizations.
At the event I spent time with Terrell McSweeny, commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, who gave the keynote presentation, and Eva Velasquez, President/CEO of the ITRC, who served as a panelist discussing survey results.
Velasquez, shared some consumer horror stories from the survey, including one victim who said, “I haven’t been able to get a loan to go back to school and finish my degree, which has made finding a job nearly impossible.”
Key survey findings:
• New utility and cellphone accounts are targets for identity thieves. One out of four victims with new accounts became ID-theft victims.
• Identity theft involving existing financial accounts was experienced by 52 percent of participants. Yet seven of 10, or 71 percent, of those who experienced ID theft did not change financial institutions.
• Criminal identity theft continues to have an impact. Approximately 1 in 5 of the survey respondents dealt with this issue in some manner.
• Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported identity theft issues involving the government. In cases of tax-related identity theft, only 55 percent of respondents who dealt with the Internal Revenue Service had received their appropriate refund at the time they responded to the survey.
• Most victims discovered medical identity theft when the medical provider or a collection agency sought payment for services never received.
• Inability to resolve the issue and lingering effects: More than half of the respondents had not yet been able to resolve their identity theft issues; 35 percent had their ability to obtain credit affected; 22 percent were still being called by collection agencies; and nearly 20 percent had their job, or ability to get a job, impacted.
• Behavior changes after being a victim: 50 percent of respondents checked their credit reports more regularly.
• Despite being victims of identity theft, 94.2 percent of the respondents are still highly engaged online and on their mobile devices. Online is a huge portal for consumer transactions, small to large, and government must continue to employ ever-improving ID-theft prevention and mitigation techniques.
Mark’s most important: Excuses or being too busy to learn the latest on ID theft won’t protect you, your family, employees or customers. Go to www.idtheftcenter.org/itrc-survey-studies to read the full “Aftermath Survey.”
Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., a national ID-theft and background-screening provider based in Phoenix. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published on AZcentral.com and republished with the author’s permission.