The most common identity theft victims are middle-aged married females, divorcees, or those who make more than $75,000 a year, according to a December 2008 survey released by Nationwide Insurance.
Nationwide Insurance, which conducted the survey, also reported that in this tough economy, it’s harder to bounce back financially after having your identity stolen. Four hundred adults, including 200 identity theft victims, were polled, and said that they didn’t know if they had enough money to recover from credit or debit card fraud. Ten percent of identity theft victims said they missed payments as a result of identity theft, and four out of five of those victims reported they also experienced lower credit scores, bankruptcy, repossession, foreclosure, or jail time. Victims also relayed additional difficulties resulting from identity theft, including family problems and time missed at work.
Identity theft is the most common crime reported to the Federal Trade Commission, with over 9 million Americans estimated to fall victim every year.
Kirk Herath, Chief Privacy Officer for Nationwide Insurance, said credit card ID theft is relatively quick and easy to rebound from. “However, if the fraud involves a debit card, a loan or your health insurance, the impact can be costly and time-consuming,” Herath said. According to Herath, Nationwide’s past survey found that identity theft victims spend an average of 81 hours attempting to settle cases, and that one in four cases were still not resolved after a year.
According to the FTC website, identity theft from credit cards may be easier to recover from because consumers can check their credit reports, see their purchase history, prove their innocence or even help apprehend the culprit. “For example, you may be able to show that the signature on an application is not yours,” the FTC’s website reads. “These documents also may contain information about the identity thief that is valuable to law enforcement. ”
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Credit card video: 6 tips to protect yourself from ID theft
The Nationwide survey found that 52 percent of respondents said they would try to recover from a case of ID theft on their own, and that nine out of 10 people were already taking steps to protect themselves, by regularly checking their financial statements, monitoring their credit report, and limiting the number of credit cards they use.
The telephone survey of 400 adults, including 200 identity theft victims, was conducted Dec. 12-17, 2008 by the research firm MRSI. The survey data is representative of the U.S. population in total and across age, ethnic and geographic segments. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent for all respondents surveyed and plus or minus 7 percent for the identity theft victims surveyed.