Doubling of Identity Theft Victims With Suicidal Thoughts

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Some 16% of American identity theft victims have had suicidal thoughts following their experiences, up from just 8% in 2020, according to a new study from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).

The US non-profit compiled its 2023 Consumer Impact Report from interviews with a random sample of victims who have contacted the ITRC in the past and 1048 general consumers. Identity crimes in this case mean identity fraud or theft.

It revealed the share of general consumers who have been a victim of identity crimes multiple times stood at 69%, with first-time victims less common (41%). A quarter (26%) of victims claimed losses in excess of $100,000, from romance and social media scams and other threats.

In some cases, consumers are defrauded through no fault of their own. A third (33%) of ITRC victims and nearly a quarter (23%) of general consumers have received between two and five data breach notices from companies they’ve done business with that have failed to safeguard their personal information.

Read more on identity theft: Near-Record Year for US Data Breaches in 2022

However, in some cases poor personal security provides an open door for hackers and fraudsters. Only half (53%) of general consumers use multi-factor authentication (MFA) and a similar share (52%) have their mobile lock screen enabled.

Some 59% say they share the same password across multiple accounts. Just 57% limit what they post online and even fewer (48%) restrict who can see these posts.

“The fact that 16% of identity crime victims thought it’s easier to end their life than try to recover from an identity crime says as much about the lack of concern and support for identity crime victims as it does the victims themselves,” argued ITRC president and CEO, Eva Velasquez.

“We need to fundamentally change the way we support identity crime victims to ensure no one feels ignored or dismissed the way they do today.”

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