Working Paper

Financial Consequences of Identity Theft

Abstract: We examine how a negative shock from identity theft affects consumer credit market behavior. 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 increases in credit scores and declines in reported delinquencies, with a significant proportion of affected consumers transitioning from subprime-to-prime credit scores. Those consumers take advantage of their improved creditworthiness to obtain additional credit, including auto loans and mortgages. Despite having larger balances, these individuals default on their loans less than prior to identity theft.

Keywords: identity theft; fraud alert; consumer credit; credit performance; limited attention;

JEL Classification: D14; D18; G5;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2020-08-13

Number: 20-33

Note: Supersedes Working Paper 19-02