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Article Archive >> Community

Unprepared Americans Suffer Consequences of ID Theft

Unprepared Americans Suffer Consequences of ID Theft

(NewsUSA): Recovering from identity theft has never been an easy task, but a new Nationwide Insurance survey indicates the current economic conditions have made the challenge even greater.
Nearly half of respondents indicated that if their identity were stolen today, they would be unsure whether they had enough money saved to manage the recovery process.
Ten percent of identity theft victims polled said they had missed bill payments as a result of the crime. Of that group, four out of five experienced serious consequences -- including credit score decrease, utilities shutoff, vehicle repossession, home foreclosure, bankruptcy and jail time.
"With so many Americans losing their savings and investments, people have less money to fall back on during the time it takes to stop the bleeding," said Kirk Herath, chief privacy officer for Nationwide Insurance. "If the identity theft involves your credit cards, you can often resolve the problems quickly. However, if the fraud involves a debit card, a loan or your health insurance, the impact can be time-consuming and costly."
Identity theft has been the No. 1 complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission for eight years in a row, with an estimated 9 million victims each year. According to Nationwide's survey, victims of identity theft tend to be Caucasian, female, ages 35 to 54, college-educated, married and employed full-time. Individuals who are separated or divorced and those making $75,000 or more a year also have a greater vulnerability to identity theft than the general population.
In addition to the financial toll, the survey found that identity theft can result in other serious repercussions, including family problems and missed time at work.
"Identity theft not only takes a financial toll on its victims, but an emotional one as well," Herath said. "It's the only crime where the victim is generally presumed guilty until he or she can prove their innocence."
On the positive side, the poll found that nine out of 10 people are taking at least one action to protect themselves. This includes regular checks of bank and other financial statements, shredding of important documents, limiting the number of credit cards used and credit report monitoring.
Another protection option available to consumers is identity theft protection coverage. Nationwide's ID Theft Assist coverage includes immediate fraud assessment, notification to major credit bureaus, assistance replacing important documents, free credit monitoring and free identity tracking. To learn more about identity theft insurance or to find an agent, please visit www.nationwide.com.

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