Identity Theft Resource Center
FTC to Host Workshop on Informational Injury; Seeking Public Comments; Workshop to be held December 12, 2017
Responses to the Identity Theft: The Aftermath 2016 survey indicate identity theft affects more than just any single individual. When victims need to borrow money from family and friends, or seek assistance from the government or faith based organizations as a result of the theft, we realize the effects go far beyond just what that respondent experienced. Each act of this crime creates a ripple effect that touches everyone. The notion that only individual victims are affected when this crime is perpetrated is false, and must be dispelled. ITRC strives to stop the hardship and helplessness caused by identity theft and cybercrime. We do this by providing direct services to victims of identity theft and are the first stop on their road to resolving their case. We also engage in education and awareness activities that elevate people's appreciation of the value of their identities. This survey and the subsequent results are just one of the ways we build awareness regarding the severe and long reaching impact of this crime. The Aftermath survey has long played a significant role in enabling the ITRC to obtain and analyze victim responses, allowing for greater insight into this complex issue and the difficulties it creates for victims, their families and communities. New to the survey in 2016 are questions that go beyond the general questions and capture the secondary level effects of this crime. We asked questions such as whether or not identity theft created a financial gap or inability to meet their needs and how they bridged that gap. We also asked the participants about other activities they engaged in or had to give up during the time they spent resolving their case. The survey responses confirm that identity theft creates more than just financial hardship for victims. Respondents show us that this crime invades many aspects of their lives. It can negatively impact employment, housing, and even educational opportunities. Many victims also report that they simply have to take time away from doing things that matter to them, such as pursuing hobbies, going on vacation, or spending time with family. We continue to ask questions that capture the emotional experience and have added the physical effects experienced as well. All of these add up to a clearer, more comprehensive picture of the true impact of this crime on its victims. Responses to all of these questions shed new light on the lost opportunities cost of identity theft, and suggest to us that helplessness, frustration and fear are a universal part of the experience. The insight gained from our respondents reminds us of what they go through, and reinforces the need for us to provide meaningful remediation plans coupled with compassion and support. The ITRC's Aftermath 2017 survey once again sought answers from victims to determine the short-term and long-term effects of various types of identity theft crimes. This report was created from voluntary responses by victims who contacted the ITRC for assistance during 2016. Year after year we have found the need for better education and awareness regarding the threat of identity theft and the myriad of ways identity theft can affect victims, their friends and family, their jobs, and other aspects of their lives. The emotional fallout from identity theft includes pain from not being able to reach goals victims had previously set for themselves, hurt caused by an inability to find employment or purchase a home, and many, many other feelings, due to a criminal stealing their identities. This report is a tool we use to educate industry, law enforcement, and policymakers about the serious impact and consequences identity theft can have on victims. We want to engage industry stakeholders in the hopes that they, too, will work toward reducing the damaging effects on not just the individual victim but on those around them as well.