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NCJ Number: 203999 Find in a Library
Title: Exploring the Psychological and Somatic Impact of Identity Theft
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:49  Issue:1  Dated:January 2004  Pages:131-136
Author(s): Tracy Sharp M.A.; Andrea Shreve-Neiger M.A.; William Fremouw Ph.D.; John Kane M.A.; Shawn Hutton M.A.
Date Published: January 2004
Page Count: 6
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Thirty-seven victims of identity theft participated in regional victim focus groups for the purpose of examining the psychological and somatic impact of identity theft and coping methods used by the victims.
Abstract: Identity theft occurs when a perpetrator uses another individual's personal information for illegal financial or personal gain to the detriment of the victim. Generally, there are two main types of identity theft: "true name fraud" and "account takeover." "True name fraud" uses the victim's personal information to open new financial accounts in his/her own name. With "account takeover," the perpetrator accesses a victim's existing financial account to make illegal purchases. Perpetrators may use the victim's personal information when they are apprehended for a crime, thus causing serious legal consequences for the victim. The identity-theft victims who participated in the focus groups completed a victim impact questionnaire designed by the authors as well as the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18). The findings showed that victims whose cases remained unresolved had clinically elevated and significantly higher BSI-18 subscale scores of somatization, depression, and overall global psychological impact. Anxiety and anger were identified as the most commonly experienced emotions; and sleep disruption and nervousness were the most commonly experienced somatic complaints immediately following victimization. The most helpful coping mechanisms identified by victims included taking action to resolve the identity theft and talking to friends and family. Additional research is needed to further isolate those areas of victimization impact that are longer lasting, more debilitating, and can be treated or curtailed by professional intervention. 4 tables, 10 references, and appended participant questionnaire
Main Term(s): Victim reactions to crime
Index Term(s): Identity Theft; Psychological victimization effects; Victim medical assistance
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