Despite extensive media coverage and growing public awareness, identify theft affected an estimated 27 million victims over the past 5 years. The crime of identity theft can be difficult to track because it takes many forms and is used to facilitate other crimes, such as credit card fraud, immigration fraud, Internet scams, and terrorism.
Recent studies have found that identity theft victims often suffer the same emotional consequences as victims of other crimes.1 Victims are often left “holding the bag” after an identity theft or fraud; they must repair their credit, prevent further misuse of their personal information, and possibly fight lawsuits or prosecution. These efforts may take days, weeks, or even years.
More research on this and other aspects of identity theft crime is urgently needed.
OVC is helping to raise awareness of identity theft's consequences for victims and has sponsored several initiatives to help victims of identity theft. OVC also supports service providers, allied professionals, law enforcement, and others tasked with helping victims.
OVC also participates in several federal working groups that share information and foster collaboration in addressing the myriad issues associated with identity theft.
For more information about identity theft, see OVC's Web page on identity theft.
See the box at the right for detailed information about OVC's initiatives in this area.
OVC will continue to take a prominent role in federal efforts addressing identity theft victimization and to assist law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates, and state agencies through education, outreach, research, and innovative programs to help victims recover.
1. See “The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) Releases Its Second Identity Theft Victimization Study,” press release, September 14, 2005. ITRC's study calls for more research into the long-term emotional impact on victims. Another study sponsored by OVC through the National Institute of Justice found that “Individuals suffer various types of additional 'costs' as a result of their victimization . . . [including] the time and effort required to resolve various problems created by the theft, the emotional impact or feeling of 'violation' that often results, and the frustration of being harassed by debt collectors or dealing with various agencies in trying to resolve problems.” See G.R. Newman and M.M. McNally, Identity Theft Literature Review, January 2005: 34.