Working Paper

Financial Consequences of Identity Theft: Evidence from Consumer Credit Bureau Records


Abstract: This paper examines how a negative shock to the security of personal finances due to severe identity theft changes consumer credit behavior. Using a unique data set of consumer credit records and alerts indicating identity theft and the exogenous timing of victimization, we show that the immediate effects of fraud on credit files are typically negative, small, and transitory. After those immediate effects fade, identity theft victims experience persistent, positive changes in credit characteristics, including improved Risk Scores. Consumers also exhibit caution with credit by having fewer open revolving accounts while maintaining total balances and credit limits. Our results are consistent with consumer inattention to credit

Keywords: fraud alert; consumer protection; identity theft; credit report; Risk Score;

JEL Classification: D14; D18; G02;

https://doi.org/10.21799/frbp.wp.2019.02

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2019-01-09

Number: 19-2

Pages: 46 pages