Identity Theft Crisis

June 1st, 2017

The Ongoing Impact of Identity Theft

Identity Theft.  It’s a problem we’re all familiar with.  You hear about it in the news on a daily basis.  The hacks at retailers, restaurants and financial institutions.  The millions of people affected each year–15.4 million in the United States in 2016 alone according to Javelin Strategy and Research.  Being a victim of identity theft is a trauma.  It doesn’t just impact your finances.  It can damage your feelings of security, power, and trust.

Identity thieves drain bank accounts, pile up credit-card debt and may claim their victim’s benefits.  While the financial implication was estimated at $16 billion dollars in 2016 what’s harder to measure is the emotional toll victims experience and their associated costs.  Victims feel violated.  There is a sense of loss and, as with any loss, feelings may turn to those of anger or depression.  It is a stressful and time-consuming process to repair the damage inflicted by identity theft.  A lingering and repeated sense of vulnerability may exist as the victim relives the crime while working to repair the damage.

In a survey of identity theft victims conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center in 2013, 69% of victims feared for their personal financial security; 50% had feelings of powerlessness or helplessness; 29% had feelings of shame or embarrassment.

The best offense is a good defense.   While identity theft isn’t completely avoidable, there are things you can do to protect yourself and reduce the risk that you may be a victim.  One of the biggest emotional implications of identity theft is a loss of control.  Take control by having a plan and being proactive.

– Don’t leave outgoing mail in your mailbox.  Take it to the post office or a postal drop box.  It’s like leaving your account numbers or personal information out for anyone to access.

– Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information.  If someone calls claiming to be from your financial institution, call back – at a number you can verify is valid.

– Pay attention to billing cycles and when you expect to receive financial information.  If statements are late contact the sender.

– Check your credit reports regularly.  Print copies and store securely.  Consider staggering when you check each source rather than checking them all at once to increase the likelihood of spotting an issue.

– Organize your files.  Know what you have, how long you need to keep it and store the information securely.

-Shred any records with personal information.  This includes paper, USB drives and hard drives.  Even if you think you’ve deleted the file on an electronic device, often times it can be recovered.  Be safe.

Shred Right provides shredding for organizations large and small, home businesses and residential customers.  Contact us for information on how we can help you proactively prevent becoming a victim of identity theft.

 

 

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