Tuesday , September 26, 2023

ID Theft Hits Black Victims’ Wallets Especially Hard, New Research Says

Identity theft is a national scourge, but initial research findings released early Wednesday indicate that scourge impacts Black victims far more than it does other segments of the U.S. population.

The impact can be measured by the dollar losses ID theft victims suffer, according to the report. In one example from the research, some 26% of victims sustained a loss between $1,000 and $4,999, 17 percentage points higher than the U.S. population in general.

The latest research, conducted by the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center and the Chicago-based Black Resources Collective between Oct. 4 and Nov. 5, received responses from 167 persons across the country who identified as Black. This preliminary effort is part of a larger three-year research initiative aimed at developing identity services in African American communities and is supported by the payments platform Synchrony and the identity-protection firm LifeLock, according to the ITRC.

Overall, the initial research has found that Blacks sustain higher losses to ID theft than was found in the 2022 Consumer Impact Report that the ITRC released earlier, according to the ITRC. That earlier report included Black respondents in what the ITRC says was a “largely non-Black sample.” The results released Wednesday indicate more than two-thirds of Black victims lost anywhere from $100 to nearly $5,000 to ID theft schemes.

The problem is ongoing, according to the research. While 27% said they had fallen victim to an ID theft scheme at least five years ago, 23% were victimized within the last year. The perpetrators are familiar to the victims in most cases, with 80% of victims indicating their identity had been stolen by a person they knew.

As it turns out, whether the victim had identity-theft protection seems to make little difference in the time spent resolving a case of ID theft, according to the survey. Some 60% of the respondents said they had ID theft protection, but just 39% had it when they were victimized.

The ITRC says gathering such data is critical in attacking the ID theft scourge as it affects sub-populations in the United States. “This is the first step in understanding identity issues in the different communities. This effort allows us to develop specific programs that will help victims recover and resolve identity crime,” says Eva Velasquez, the ITRC’s president and chief executive, in a statement.

The ITRC expects to post a fuller executive summary of the survey results by the end of the month.

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