Many people view identity theft as a casual problem. Identity theft is nothing more than a fraudulent charge here or there that your credit card provider flags, reports, refunds you for and replaces your compromised card. But identity theft is so much more than just a stolen credit card number.
It’s a rising worry
Eight out of ten Americans report being worried about identity theft—and respondents consistently put identity theft as one of their top 10 fears. A recent survey conducted by Transunion found that 83 percent of consumers are concerned about the possibility that they may have their personal information stolen or misused within the next two years. They also found that out of the more than 1,000 adults who participated in the survey, more than half responded that they or a member of their household had already been a victim of ID theft, online fraud or had personal data stolen from a business or government data breach.
These worries are not unfounded. An estimated 17.6 million Americans ages 16 and older experienced identity theft in 2014, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and identity theft ranks high on the list of complaints recorded by the FTC; second only to complaints about debt collectors.
It targets those who can’t combat it
Among the many people who are affected by identity theft, studies show that there are higher rates among children, the elderly and even military personnel; this could be because those populations have less access to their credit files.
The FTC reported that members of the military become victims of identity theft, at about twice the rate of individuals not in the military. Another part of the population targeted by identity thieves have no idea how to protect themselves. They’re too busy learning how to tie their shoes and ride bikes.
Research has shown that children have their credit and Social Security Numbers misused at rates far higher than those of the general population. About 1.3 million children are affected by identity theft each year, Robert Chappell Jr., author of ‘Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know,” told the Detroit Free Press, and it is estimated that half are under the age of six.
It can have a lasting effect
Some of the biggest problems that identity theft victims are faced with are the lingering effects of having their identity stolen. If the thief opened new accounts or committed a crime in the victim’s name, it can be a long process to correct public records and credit.
Damaged credit can do more to hurt a victim’s finances in the long run. Most applications for apartment rentals and house mortgages involve a credit check and if the victim’s credit is in bad shape due to identity theft they may be denied housing or receive higher interest rates on mortgages and loans.
Take action towards protection
Identity theft can cause problems that expand past your bank account, making it vital for you to learn how to protect yourself. Enrolling in a credit monitoring service like Identity Guard can help you protect your identity. With three-bureau credit monitoring, public record monitoring and a personalized approach to protecting your privacy, you can find the right Identity Guard product to fit your lifestyle. No matter where you are in life, Identity Guard can help.