Volume 49, Issue 1 (January 2004)
Exploring the Psychological and Somatic Impact of Identity Theft
Identity theft is a new and growing form of white-collar crime. This exploratory study examined the psychological and somatic impact of identity theft and coping methods utilized by victims. Thirty-seven victims of identity theft participated in regional victim focus groups. Participants completed a victim impact questionnaire designed by the authors and the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18). The majority of participants expressed an increase in maladaptive psychological and somatic symptoms post victimization. Results on the BSI indicated that identity theft victims with unresolved cases, in contrast to those with resolved cases, were more likely to have clinically elevated scores when compared with a normative sample. Relatively similar coping mechanisms were utilized across victims. The results from this study suggest that victims of identity theft do have increased psychological and physical distress, and for those whose cases remain unresolved, distress is maintained over time.