Identity Theft Disproportionately Affects Members of Black Community: Study

Identity theft can happen to anyone, but in a new study, Black victims reported losing more money to the crime than other groups.

According to a small study from a national non-profit organization, Black victims may be getting hit harder than others by identity thieves.

“Members of the Black community lose more money than the general population. They tend not to report the incident to places of authority,” Eva Velasquez said.

Velasquez is the president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, also known as the ITRC. The ITRC, in partnership with the Black Researchers Collective, is working on a three-year initiative looking at identity theft in the Black community.

So far, around 167 Black identity theft victims nationwide participated in their survey. Of those, 16% reported losing at least $5,000. Around 26% lost anywhere between $1,000 to $4,900. That is a 17 percentage point increase compared to all victims surveyed last year in the ITRC’s Consumer Impact Report.

“Why are members of the Black community losing more money? We don’t have solid answers to that yet,” Velasquez said.

She said thieves often look for ways to lure victims in using certain language and targeted scams.

“The scammers and the thieves, they have their ear to the ground, they know what resonates with different individuals and different communities,” Velasquez said.

She said their research also found 80% of the victims surveyed reported having their identities stolen by someone they knew. This means you may need to take extra precautions to protect your personal information.

“If you have a lot of traffic in and out of your house, maybe you have a lot of people living under one roof…we always advise people to make sure that any document, that has information about you, even your credit card bill, your bank statement, you leave them in a secure location as well and don’t just leave them out for anyone to have access to,” Velasquez said.

It’s also a good idea to take routine steps like freezing your credit, enabling multi-factor authentication on your digital devices, and upgrading your passwords.

You also want to check your bank, credit card, and retirement accounts frequently. Don’t share your personal information with companies that don’t need it.