The Long-Term Effects of Identity Theft
Learn about the lasting consequences of being a victim and what you can do.
Identity theft involves cybercriminals gaining access to financial information or credentials that can be used to establish credit or make purchases in your name. Regardless of how you are victimized, there can be long-lasting consequences of being a victim. Find out how identity theft can affect you and what you can do to discover if someone has fraudulently used your information.
Effect #1 – Financial Loss
The most severe consequence of identity theft is the loss of personal funds. Often times, fraudulent purchases made using stolen credit or debit card information is covered by the bank or company issuing the card. Sometimes, though, money that’s stolen through other means such as wire fraud or bogus money orders or cashier’s checks can be more difficult to recover and can be difficult to prove. Also, if time has passed and the victim doesn’t notice the fraud in a timely manner, the odds of recovering the stolen money greatly decreases. In certain circumstances, the victim can be left financially devastated. Recovering lost funds could take years and in some cases, the money might never be recovered.
Effect #2 – Employment Woes
Identity fraud doesn’t only ruin credit scores affecting the ability for you to apply for credit cards, mortgages or get financing but also affect employment. Many employers not only drug test and check criminal history, but conduct a credit check as well. Those with bad credit scores have a much more difficult time finding a job.
Effect #3 – Mental Stress
It can take hundreds of hours to clear up an identity theft case. In many instances, victims find that issues that they thought were resolved may pop up again years later leading to ongoing damage control that can take an emotional toll. The stress and fear of financial insecurity can have a lasting impact on mental health. Many identity theft scams have cost families their vehicles, home, and life savings and left them penniless. The fear of losing everything can be emotionally crippling, cause anxiety and in extreme cases has lead to ending marriages, hospitalization, and even suicide.
Avoid Becoming an Identity Theft Target
Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim and actions you can take if your identity is stolen.
ONE, credit monitoring services help discover suspicious activity concerning your financial business and insure against loss if your identity is stolen. You can also manually check your bank account, credit card statements and credit reports for fraudulent activity.
TWO, using dfndr security can protect your mobile device from phishing attacks and the Identity Theft Report feature can help you find out if your email addresses appear on the dark web. If you do find suspicious activity, you should notify your financial institution and law enforcement immediately to prevent further damage.
THREE, if you receive credit card statements or banking statements in your inbox, be sure to archive those properly in a secure cloud service. This helps prevent hackers from having access to documents that lists your private information.
FOUR, contact one or more of these agencies if your identity has been compromised:
www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ (Federal Trade Commission).
www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs17a.htm (Identity Theft: What to Do if It Happens to You).
www.idtheftcenter.org (For information on consumer focused items, click on “consumer resources” on the left side of the page).
https://www.stopfraud.gov/protect-identity.html (Department of Justice).