Identity theft is often viewed as a financial crime, and in many ways, it is. Identity thieves can rob their victims of savings, good credit and a host of other money-related assets they currently have or are working to gain. However, the nature of identity theft also takes an emotional toll on affected individuals. From a loss of peace of mind to self-blame and hopelessness, putting the pieces back together can cause as much psychological stress as the crime itself.
NBC News interviewed Diane, a victim in Minnesota. Her testimony is one of many that reinforces how destructive and irreparable the damage of identity fraud can be. Relationships and circumstances that were once taken for granted are often thrown into question as distress and helplessness settle in.
“My husband and I would have survived better had our house burned to the ground, or if we had been burglarized or robbed at gunpoint. There would have been less hassle, less stress and less indignation,” she said. “It caused the death of our marriage and of everything we’ve known to be safe and secure. I have no hope or faith or trust in anybody anymore.”
While Diane’s story is not unique, it presents anecdotal evidence that has been proven by research. A study by the West Virginia University Department of Psychology stated that marked psychological aftereffects were clearly defined in identity fraud victims.
“The majority of participants expressed an increase in maladaptive psychological and somatic symptoms post victimization,” explained the report, republished by the National Institute of Health. “Results indicated that identity theft victims with unresolved cases, in contrast to those with resolved cases, were more likely to," continue feeling distressed and that relatively, "similar coping mechanisms were utilized across victims.”
The best way to avoid these dangerous health and wellness effects is to take steps that lower the risk of fraud taking place. A combination of careful credit monitoring and other protective steps can help consumers keep their information from falling into nefarious hands. The average American consumer may not know where to begin in addressing the risk of stolen identity, so Identity Guard has devised a host of services to help restore peace of mind in an increasingly manipulative world.
While there’s no way to completely protect your identity from thieves, you can take proactive steps to mitigate any damage as much as possible by frequently reviewing your credit report for unusual items. Every American is entitled to at least one free credit report a year from each of the three major bureaus. You can also elect to have a credit monitoring service to help you perform this legwork. These services will alert you should certain signs of activity appear on your credit files.
Contact us today to learn more about how to safeguard your identity online and in the real world. We’re committed to helping you take the proper steps to protect yourself from criminal activity that can leave long and lasting damage on your finances and personal wellbeing.