The U.S. Department of Justice reports that an estimated 7% of the population of the United States population has been victimized to some degree by identity theft.
Of course, there are many shades of identity theft, from low-level use of personal data to create a fake social profile to high-level Social Security fraud that re-routes benefits to a third party.
But regardless of what type of identity theft affects you personally, there is always a cost attached to the recovery process. Here, it is important to know that part of this cost relates directly to how quickly you notice the signs of identity theft and report it to the relevant authorities.
How much does it cost to recover from identity theft? That is what we will discuss in this post.
Who Is Impacted by Identity Theft?
The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is quite clear about this fact: there is no individual today who is completely immune to the threat of identity theft. This includes infants and the elderly, children and teens and adults.
Identity theft can take on so many different forms and is not tied to an individual’s personal net worth. Even personal data from people of very modest means and minors can potentially generate lucrative ongoing revenues for identity thieves. In fact, in the 2013 ITRC survey, more than half of identity theft victims reported an average household annual income of less than $50,000.
The “gold” in the equation is not how deep your pockets are but simple access to your personal information.
Social Security card number, credit card or bank routing number, address and phone number, email address, social media handle, birth date, driver’s license number, Medicare number or health insurance member ID number, tax ID number – all of these pieces of personal data have a potential value to an identity thief.
Even partial information, such as the last four digits of a Social Security number or driver’s license number, can hold value in the hands of a skilled fraudster.
What all of this points to is the increasing numbers of people, both individuals and families as well as businesses of all sizes, who rely on identity theft protection services to be their eyes and ears and watch over their personal data. There is simply too much personal data to monitor today to be able to be everywhere watching everything at once.
What Is the Potential Impact of Identity Theft?
The ITRC reports that as many as 45% of victims of IRS identity theft are still waiting to receive their refund checks at the time the most recent survey was administered. More than half of the victims still had unresolved identity theft issues.
Ongoing potential issues that can arise from identity theft span the gamut from an inability to apply for a new line of credit or loan to problems applying for work to constant calls from third-party debt collection agencies.
Most victims report being unhappy with local resolution through law enforcement agencies and express dissatisfaction with current resolution matters.
This is prompting more individuals to seek restitution through enrolling in identity theft protection services, which can help not only with identity monitoring and theft detection but also with resolution options.
What Are the Options for Recovery from Identity Theft?
One of the biggest challenges identity theft victims can face is the lack of standardization for reporting and recovering from identity theft.
There are so many different types of identity theft, each of which corresponds to different agencies and entities that need to be notified. For example, if a criminal uses your Social Security number or tax ID number to file a fraudulent tax return in your name, you need to report it to the Internal Revenue Service.
If a criminal uses your credit card number to purchase products or services, you need to report it to your financial institution.
If a criminal uses your Medicare number or private health insurance member ID number to receive benefits under your name, you need to report it to Medicare or to your insurer directly.
Sometimes it is not clear who to report the identity theft too. For these cases, having the guidance of a skilled identity theft protection professional can be invaluable in containing and minimizing the damage.
How Much Does It Cost to Recover From Identity Theft?
Calculating how much does it cost to recover from identity theft isn’t just about the financial cost to you.
According to Experian, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus, the true cost of recovering from identity theft must factor in your finances, your time and your health, both physical and mental/emotional.
When you are a victim of identity theft your life is impacted on all levels. Because there are these “hidden” costs as well as those that are more obvious, sometimes it can feel impossible to truly calculate what it costs you to recover from identity theft.
CSID, a division of Experian, states that the average estimated financial cost per victim is around $1,343. Can you afford to absorb this level of loss along with all the other costs that identity theft can demand?
For this reason, it is truly impossible to quantify the total cost per identity theft victim. Every year, more than 17.6 million people become victims of identity theft. No two cases are exactly alike and every single victim suffers, sometimes for months or years after the theft takes place.
The earlier you detect and report suspected identity theft, either on your own behalf or for a minor, elder or family member, the more options you are likely to have for making a faster recovery on all fronts and being able to resume your regular daily life with enhanced identity protections in place.
Working with an identity theft protection service can fast track your recovery process, cutting through confusion and red tape to identify the right reporting resources and remediation services to stop the thieves in their tracks.