The Emotional Impact of ID Theft
June 21, 2012
Jackie here, with AllClear ID. If you have been a victim of id theft, you know that this crime can be accompanied by a wave of emotions from anger to sadness to frustration and others. Many victims report feeling helpless and violated. Getting your finances back in order is an important part of overcoming id theft, but it isn’t the only aspect; recovering emotionally is just as important.
Finding Out You Are a Victim
Finding out you are a victim of id theft can be earth-shattering. How did this happen to me? Is it my fault? What do I do now? Common emotions include anger, fear, frustration and denial. You have a long road ahead of you and will probably face many emotions before your identity is restored. If family or friends perpetrated the crime, you may also have to come to face with betrayal, and since it can be difficult to pinpoint the source of the crime, you may never know where the theft originated.
Starting the resolution process can be frustrating. Identity theft is notoriously difficult to resolve and working with law enforcement can often feel like getting nowhere. Be patient; this process will take time.
Dealing with the Fall-Out
It’s important to deal with these emotions in a healthy manner. Here’s some tips on what to bear in mind when overcoming a stolen identity.
- ID Theft Isn’t Your Fault- If you are a victim of identity theft, just know it isn’t your fault, even if you have made mistakes with the way you handle your personal information. The only person at fault is the thief that utilized your information to steal. Don’t feel embarrassed, ashamed or responsible.
- Healing Doesn’t Mean Becoming the Same as You Were- Identity theft can and will change your life. It may alter the way you see the world and the way you interact with others. This is normal.
- Don’t Try to Face It Alone- You aren’t alone. As an identity theft victim, you have many people ready and waiting to help you resolve your problems. Check out our list of id theft resources for a few places you can turn for help. You can also rely on family and friends throughout this process.
During this time of emotional turmoil it is important to consider your needs and to find healthy outlets for your frustration. Here are some ideas:
- Exercise- Resolving id theft can takes months or years. Contacting creditors, dealing with law enforcement, etc. takes time. It is easy to spend all your extra time focusing on resolution, but it is also important to find a balance. Make time for exercise. It will relieve stress and help you to find peace even in a chaotic time.
- Take a Break- When your to-do list gets too long, take a break. Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t have the time or the energy to add another project to your life right now. Make time for friends and family and foster relationships with those you care about.
- Volunteer- Many find that volunteer work, especially in the identity theft field, helps them recover from this crime. You aren’t helpless and finding ways to help others is a great way to realize how many options you do have.
For more information on the emotional impact of id theft check out the ITRC’s fact sheet: Overcoming the Emotional Impact.