We hear a great deal of information on identity theft through the media, but most of it is just numbers. Most of us have a hard time wrapping our minds around the shockingly huge statistics on identity theft. Let’s look at some of them in a way that’s going to be easier to understand and appreciate the impact.
Learning of the Crime
These statistics on identity theft are made available by the study, Identity Theft: The Aftermath 2008, conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center. The time it has taken people to realize they have been a victim of identity theft has stayed relatively unchanged since 2003. Since the time of the first incident, 47% of victims realize within three months. A total of 71% of victims realize in the first year. However, it takes between two and three years for 8% to find out and more than three years for 12% to figure out they have been a victim of identity theft.
One of the main messages that have been promoted in recent years is the importance of staying aware of the activity in your accounts and trying to catch identity theft early. It seems, through the statistics on identity theft, this message is beginning to work.
The way people found out they were a victim changed quite a bit from 2007 to 2008. Victims found out being proactive 45% of the time in 2008, compared to 8% in 2007. They found out because of an adverse situation (job denial, insurance rate increase, inability to open bank account due to poor credit, creditors calling for payment on late bills, or even finding out there was a warrant out for their arrest) 34% of the time in 2008, compared with 82% in 2007. Lastly, in 2008, the victim found out because a business was checking up on information 21% of the time, up from 10% in 2007.
Resolving the Problem
It takes time and is costly to restore normalcy when a person has become an identity theft victim. These statistics on identity theft indicate that to restore an existing account that was taken over and used by the identity thief, it took victims in 2008 an average of 58 hours to repair the damage. This amount of time has gone down from 116 hours spent by respondents in 2007. To repair cases where a new account was opened by the identity thief, an average of 165 hours was spent by victims, which is nearly the same as the year before.
The out-of-pocket, monetary loss for victims repairing the damage, varied along the same lines as time spent. For the repair of an existing account, it cost an average of $739 for a victim, up from $550 in 2007. In regards to a new account being opened, it cost an average of $951 per victim, way down from $1865 in 2007.