Monday, March 16, 2009

ID Theft Causes Serious Issues In Tough Economy

A recent Nationwide Insurance survey finds more Americans unable to recover from ID theft in tough economy

Some respondents missing payments resulting in serious repercussions

Columbus, Ohio – In another sign of the tough economy, a new Nationwide Insurance survey found that nearly half of respondents said that if their identity were stolen today, they did not know if they had enough money in reserve to weather the recovery process.

The new survey also found that 10 percent of identity theft victims polled missed payments due to the crime. Of those victims, four out of five say the theft caused serious repercussions – including lower credit scores, utilities shut off, bankruptcy, vehicle repossession, home foreclosure or even jail time.

“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 costly and time consuming,” said Kirk Herath, Chief Privacy Officer for Nationwide Insurance. “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.”

With an estimated 9 million victims each year, identity theft has been the number one complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission for eight years in a row.

According to Nationwide’s survey, identity theft victims tend to be Caucasian, female, ages 35-54, college-educated, married, and employed full time. Additionally, people who are separated or divorced, and those making $75,000 or more a year are more likely to fall prey to identity theft than the general population.

The survey also found that 52 percent of respondents said they would tackle the recovery process from identity theft on their own.

“Nationwide’s previous polls found that identity theft victims spent an average of 81 hours trying to resolve their case and one in four cases were unresolved after a year of trying,” Herath said. “Identity theft not only takes a financial toll on victims, but an emotional one as well. Identity theft is the only crime where the victim is generally presumed guilty until he or she can prove their innocence.”

Victims surveyed said that the theft of their identity caused other serious problems, including family problems and missed time at work.
This is the third in a continuing series of surveys conducted to better understand identify theft and the impact on its victims. A 2005 Nationwide survey showed the average amount of total charges made using a victim’s identity was $3,968. While most victims were not held responsible for fraudulent charges, 16 percent reported paying an average of $6,440 to cover some or all of the thief’s purchases.

The good news is that the poll also shows most people are taking greater measures towards identity theft protection. In fact, nine out of 10 people surveyed have taken at least one of the following measures to protect themselves: regularly checking their bank and other financial statements, shredding important documents, limiting the number of credit cards they use and monitoring their credit report.

For piece of mind and protection from identity thieves, Nationwide policyholders can add the ID Theft Assist coverage to their homeowner insurance policy for only $45 per year. In some states, consumers without a Nationwide policy can purchase a stand-alone policy for $99. Nationwide’s identity theft protection 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, visit

The telephone survey of 400 adults, including 200 identity theft victims, was conducted December 12-17, 2008 by MRSI and is representative of the U.S. population in total and across age, ethnic and geographic segments. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points for all respondents surveyed, +/- 7% identity theft victims surveyed and +/- 5.5% non-identity theft victims

Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the world and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. Nationwide ranks #108 on the Fortune 500 list. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit

Source: Nationwide Insurance

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