WASHINGTON, DC – Federal Trade Commissioner Terrell McSweeny recently spoke at an event hosted by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) to highlight the growing threat of identity theft and its widespread effects on victims. The event coincided with the release of ITRC’s annual report on Identity Theft: The Aftermath 2013, which explores the impact the crime of identity theft has on its victims.
The new research from ITRC, which surveyed 201 identity theft victims from 39 states, finds that the consequences of identity theft are pervasive, lasting and extend far beyond the initial effects. For example, 35 percent of victims reported that their ability to obtain credit was impacted; 20 percent saw their ability to secure employment affected after being victimized by ID theft. As with previous Aftermath surveys, this year’s research found that identity theft continues to victimize people of all ages and income levels.
“We’ve known for years that nobody is immune to identity theft, but this new report shows just how severe and lasting the effects for victims really are,” said Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “We must do more to help victims but, as our survey demonstrates, providing help after-the-fact is not nearly enough. It’s time we gave consumers the tools they need to safeguard their personal information against identity thieves.”
This year’s report also revealed that today’s era of increased online and cell phone engagement has provided more attractive targets for identity thieves. For example, the study found that one in four ID theft victims who had experienced “new account” identity theft had either new utilities or cell phone accounts fraudulently opened in their name.
The emotional toll of ID theft is also severe: many victims reported feeling “rage,” “fear for financial safety,” and “powerlessness and helplessness.” Most alarmingly, however, more than half of the victims we surveyed reported that they had not yet been able to resolve their identity theft issue.
Commissioner McSweeny’s remarks preceded a panel of experts and other government officials who gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss the issue of identity fraud and how policymakers can further address this growing threat.
The findings of the report and the views of the expert panel suggest that, despite growing national awareness of the issue, little progress has been made on preventing or lessening the impact of identity theft. The consensus opinion is that the many forms of identity fraud continue to have a lasting impact on victims and our economy, and more work must be done to help victims and prevent future crimes.
About the Identity Theft Resource Center
Founded in 1999, the Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization which provides victim assistance and consumer education through its toll-free call center, website and highly visible social media efforts.
It is the mission of the ITRC to: provide best-in-class victim assistance at no charge to consumers throughout the United States; educate consumers, corporations, government agencies, and other organizations on best practices for fraud and identity theft detection, reduction and mitigation; and, serve as a relevant national resource on consumer issues related to cybersecurity, data breaches, social media, fraud, scams, and other issues.