What are the effects of identity
Identity theft is an enormous problem. A September 2003 Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) report found that nearly 10 million Americans, or nearly 5 percent of U.S. adults, had been victimized
by identity theft in 2002. ID theft is a fast-growing problem that has certainly gotten even worse since that
report was written.
By the time identity theft is discovered - on average 14 months after the crime - the
thief has wrecked havoc on the victim's credit standing. The effects on victims range from financial losses,
lost mortgages and jobs, tarnished credit ratings and credit impairment. Consumers then often experience
difficulty in obtaining loans, getting a job or an apartment, and even writing
checks. In some cases to the arrest of
innocent people who are "wanted" for crimes committed by others using their identities.
In most cases, victims must spend many frustrating hours trying to untangle the resulting
mess - much of which must be devoted to trying to get data companies like ChoicePoint to correct their records and
stop propagating false information. Credit bureaus and other data companies have long been infamous for their
extremely poor and hard-to-reach customer service. They are "cost shifting" - saving money on customer service by
shifting the costs to the individuals who must endure long waits and frustrating lack of responses. And the
individuals forced to endure that poor service and thus have no power or leverage over them.
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