Unfortunately, fraud and identity theft are crimes which do not appear to be slowing down, with an incredible 44% increase in the number of data breaches last year. It is a prevalent issue throughout the US, with the crimes affecting all areas of society from stay-at-home parents to multibillionaire corporations with an outstanding 16.7 million of American’s impacted in 2017 alone.
The majority of Americans know what fraud and identity theft is. After all, it’s something we are taught in school, and the steps to take to protect yourself are widely discussed. We know the importance of keeping private data exactly that – private. What is less commonly known, however, is the lasting impact this terrible crime has for those who feel its effects. Often, the waves caused by identity theft and fraud can be lifelong, which can be categorized into two main pillars.
Perhaps one of the more well-known issues which arise due to identity theft is our financial wellbeing and stability. The damage this crime can do to your financial future can impact every area of your life, from your mortgage and rent payments, your retirement fund, even your child’s educational future. If a criminal accesses the pot of money you’ve saved to send your little one to college, the chances of recovering the amount is extremely slim.
Identity theft will also affect an individual’s credit rating, which then impacts on their financial future indefinitely. A low credit score can prevent you from being accepted for a mortgage, receiving investment for a new business, allowing you to take out finance for a new car, being rejected for a rental agreement, and so on. One way to protect your credit rating, however, is to ensure you regularly check it. This way, any anomalies you discover can be addressed sooner rather than later, minimizing the potentially damaging impact.
Similarly, if an identity thief gets their hands on your Social Security number, there’s no stopping them from committing Tax Refund Identity Theft, which means that sum of money you were looking forward to receiving is lost. The numbers for Social Security number data breaches is astounding: 158 million numbers were exposed in 2017. When a thief has hold of your Social Security number, it’s not something you can ignore or forget about; this number can then be sold on the dark web, potentially even years after the data breach has occurred. To recover from this specific identity theft, you will need to work closely with experts, and even the government.
There’s no denying that identity theft is an incredibly challenging and stressful situation to be in. The impact it has on your emotional well-being can be felt throughout the whole family. The most common emotional responses to fraud and identity theft include:
- Loss of confidence and self-worth
As this particular crime is one which there’s no way to predict, and often, it goes unnoticed for a period of time, the shock alone can trigger a horrible emotional response, one which doesn’t simply go away after a set amount of time. The emotional toll can play on a victim’s mind for many years. Anger is especially prevalent, but it is not always directed solely at the thief. It is common for victims of identity theft to blame themselves, and sometimes even blame family members. This blame then creates a domino effect, with a victim’s self-worth and confidence taking a knock, becoming especially anxious whether this crime could affect them again.
Unfortunately, identity theft and fraud appear to be growing in numbers, rather than decreasing. While this is a worrying statistic, there are ways to protect yourself against the unscrupulous individuals who seek to steal your data. By working with privacy experts, such as our team of specialists, you can resolve any worries and fears, recover any identity thefts, and work tirelessly to ensure it doesn’t happen again.