The Impact of Identity Theft on Consumer Credit Reports (Part One)

Each year, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) issues a report on how identity theft impacts consumers. ITRC’s report is always illuminating, and its new report, just released in September, is no exception. Through robust data and stories, ITRC’s report shows that identity theft can have life-changing consequences for its victims. And most of this is not because these victims lost a ton of money. It’s because of the impact it had on their credit.

In this post and the next, let’s explore ITRC’s key findings to understand why this is the case.

First, ITRC begins by assessing who is most at risk from identity theft. Women are more likely to be targets of identity theft than men. Most victims are college-educated. About half of those who have had their identity compromised say this isn’t the first time this has happened.

When it comes to earning power, 30% have household incomes of more than $100,000 a year, while 20% have an annual household income of $50,000 to $74,999. After that, the percentage of those identity theft victims is pretty evenly split across income levels. Surprisingly, even those who earn less than $20,000 are still victims of identity theft.

This data would suggest that identity thieves are looking more for accessible targets (such as through data breaches) rather than focusing on people depending because of their tax bracket or finances.

Of those targeted, 36% reported that the identity thieves stole less than $500, but almost six percent reported losing more than $10,000. About 40 percent said the theft meant they had trouble covering bills or other obligations. And ITRC noted that the number of those who are reporting more considerable losses has been on the upswing.

In our next post, we’ll look further into ITRC’s findings regarding what happened to those who were the targets of identity theft—how it altered their credit and how that transformed their lives.

Click here to read part 2!