Today, the United States is facing an ever-growing number of identity theft crimes. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), nearly 10 million Americans suffered the consequences of this crime in 2004, and the commission received more than 5,000 telephone calls per week related to identity theft in 2005.
Actual numbers of identity theft victims are hard to determine because many individuals do not find out that they’ve been victimized until many months later, and it is estimated that many others never report the crime to the police, banks, or credit bureaus. According to the FTC, 38 percent of victims never informed anyone of their victimization.
These crimes present special challenges to victims, victim service providers, and legal services providers. Dubbed as the fastest growing crime, identity theft is so prevalent and hard to pin down that providing victims and victim service providers with guidance is essential to combating this steadily increasing problem. Because every case is so different and each state has its own laws regarding identity theft and fraud, no single way exists to address the financial, emotional, and legal needs of the victims. Depending on the type of theft, victims may spend months trying to clear their credit and names. It is crucial that victim service providers throughout the country use consistent practices and provide victims with accurate information when dealing with the repercussions of identity theft.
In this electronic publication, four grantees (the Identity Theft Resource Center; the Victims Initiative for Counseling, Advocacy, and Restoration in the Southwest; the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc.; and Atlanta Victim Assistance) team up to present varied approaches to helping victims of these crimes.