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For Many Consumers, Identity Theft Can Have Snowball Effect

Michael Rapp April 26, 2014

A recent article on details the struggles of many consumers who have been victims of identity theft. For some victims of identity theft, the pain and suffering ends with a call to their credit card company to report fraudulent charges. A new card is then issued, and in most instances, consumers are not held liable for bogus charges.

However, for many other identity theft victims, the negative consequences do not end there. For example, Diane (whose last name was protected in the article) in Minnesota has suffered consequences long after her identity was stolen.

In 2000, Diane and her husband Dean noticed their bank accounts had been depleted after signing up for online banking. Even after the bank issued new accounts, their funds were stolen again and checks repeatedly bounced. The problems only escalated from there for the Minnesota residents.

Diane and her husband noticed their credit scores declined rapidly, and their interest rates rose to 29%. The couple was eventually forced to file for bankruptcy.

On top of their financial struggles, Diane and Dean suffered emotional damage as well. Diane suffered anxiety and depression, and has had trouble sleeping for the past 14 years.

According to the article, Diane and Dean are not alone. In a recent survey by the Identity Theft Resource Center (IDTC) a large number of participants expressed that identity theft had a serious negative effect on their mental health.

And although the majority of identity theft cases involve stolen credit or debit cards, approximately 14% involve the theft of social security numbers according to Javelin Strategy & Research. In the case of credit & debit card theft, large-scale breaches (i.e. Target and Home Depot) are often the cause.

The holiday shopping season is an especially concerning time for consumers who have had their identity stolen in the past. The IDTC offers various identity theft tips on its website to help consumers stay safe, both online and in stores.