Your identity is one of your most valuable assets. It’s what makes you, you. At a personal level, it is comprised of all the components that your friends and family love, and what makes you successful at your job. At an organizational and business level, it’s also how financial institutes know who to give money, how the IRS identifies you for your tax return and even how stores accept your credit cards for payment. So what happens when all of these areas are compromised by identity theft?
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Identity theft is set to “surpass traditional theft as the leading form of property crime.” And unfortunately it can be a hard to track down the criminals responsible for these acts, leaving victims without a resolution or feeling of closure.
That’s why it’s no surprise that having your identity compromised can be a traumatic experience. At the most basic level, there’s the feeling of vulnerability that comes with knowing that someone has accessed your personal information and is using it without your permission. If your information was compromised due to a breach at a business, there can also be feelings of mistrust.
While the personal turmoil is often hard enough to handle, it’s the financial consequences of identity theft that can pose some of the biggest issues. Simply put, having your identity stolen is expensive – both in terms of your time and finances. In some cases, say if your credit card or debit information was stolen, you can manage to protect yourself by contacting your bank and cancelling the accounts. Lasting damage can occur if the perpetrator has used your personal information for health care purposes or to open up lines of credit – two issues that can leave you paying for their transgressions for years to come.
In terms of costs to the victim, on top of the emotional repercussions there are of course the financial implications. An infographic from Mashable says that 10% of Americans have had their identities stolen, which each victim losing on average $5,000. Businesses are also occurring large costs, with smaller organizations often being forced out of business by forensic audits, loss of business and possible customer compensation.
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, don’t stand idly by. If you’re able to confirm the business that led to the compromising of your information, ensure they’re taking steps to implement policies that will mitigate risk in the future.
Do you have any tips on recovering from identity theft? Let us know in the comments below.