Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to use for their own betterment and to commit fraud. Identity theft is a major problem for consumers, resulting in billions of dollars in financial losses every year. Unfortunately, research by the Identity Theft Research Center (ITRC) led to the sobering conclusion that identity theft is on the rise. The ITRC estimates that there was a 68% increase in data compromises between 2020 and 2021.
How much does identity theft cost? You could lose over $1,000 for an average incident, costing the victims a substantial amount of money and causing stress due to the amount of time and patience needed to rectify the situation. In the worst case scenario, the credit scores of identity theft victims could be adversely affected for years. This would make it very difficult to secure loans, get a mortgage, or apply for a credit card.
The most common forms of identity theft occur when a thief uses personal information such as your Social Security number to file their taxes, get medical services under your name, apply for loans or credit cards, or even to commit a crime.
If the perpetrator of the identity theft is not stopped ASAP, bills can go without being paid and debts can quickly accumulate on your credit history.
A $56 Billion industry
The actual cost of identity theft varies widely depending upon what personal information was stolen, what type of scam occurred, and how long it took to discover it. How much does identity theft cost overall?
The total cost of identity theft in 2020 was $56 billion, the highest number in recorded history. Scams involving identity fraud cost victims $43 billion while traditional identity fraud such as a data breach cost victims $13 billion according to a study conducted in 2021 by Javelin Strategy and Research.
In cases involving a scam, the victims can identify the exact moment when they were tricked by the scam artists in a text, email, or phone; these are typically “phishing” scams. More traditional identity theft involves the theft of an individual’s information or theft of a similar nature at an institutional level.
Recovering from identity theft
Identity theft is a crime that can add serious complications to your life, with the potential to cost you significant time, money, and opportunities. Every year, millions of individuals struggle to recover from identity theft.
Sadly, you can’t always keep your personal information safe from thieves. It’s important to know how to recover from identity theft should it happen to you. We recommend you:
- Take inventory of the damage
- Freeze your credit reports and place fraud alerts
- Contact the companies involved
- Fix your credit
- Monitor your credit reports
If you’re unable to have fraudulent accounts removed from your credit report or have a bank or credit card company recredit any of your accounts, getting legal help from an identity theft attorney is your best option.
The Law Offices of Robert F. Brennan APC, located in Los Angeles, handles identity theft cases under both federal and California law with an excellent track record of results.