ways identity theft can impact your lifeEveryone knows that becoming a victim of identity theft can lead to credit problems and financial woes, but there are many more ways identity theft can impact your life than you might realize. Since 2003, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has conducted a series of studies on the aftermath of identity theft on its victims. The 2016 Aftermath study was recently released, and explores the many different ramifications identity theft can have for a person’s life, based on answers from 300 participants in 40 states who experienced identity theft in 2015. Considering identity theft is a phenomenon that continues to grow and spread, with cybercriminals finding more inventive ways to steal people’s information every day, it’s important to educate yourself. As you can see from this list, this crime is one that can leave a lasting impact on your life far beyond just making it difficult to take out a loan or buy a house. Wondering what other ways identity theft can affect you? We’ve got you covered.

1. You might end up needing help getting back on your feet.

It’s probably not a big surprise that those who are middle-to-lower income are going to have more difficulty recovering from identity theft, especially if the identity theft results in losing money. As tax refund fraud spiked over the past year, many people found themselves going without much-needed income tax refunds and needing to cover the financial gap themselves. The ITRC found that 30% of people who report identity theft needed government assistance to get back on their feet, including welfare, food stamps and electronic benefit transfer (EBT). Unfortunately, identity thieves can even wreak havoc on your ability to receive that support, as one Navy veteran recently discovered when he attempted to apply for unemployment and was denied because someone else was using his social security number. Even if you don’t need to use a public support program in the wake of experiencing identity theft, you may find yourself leaning on friends, family or local community for help. None of this is something to be ashamed of, but it’s a reality that many victims of identity theft may find themselves coming face to face with.

2. Your job, schooling or home could be in jeopardy.

Nearly 55% of survey respondents reported missing work in the wake of their identity theft, while 44% said they missed out on employment opportunities. Although some people might be able to take time off to deal with personal issues without risking their job, that’s not the case for everyone. If you’re in the middle of a job hunt then the time and energy you have to dedicate to restoring your good name could mean missing out on an employment opportunity. If you’re in school, you’re also at risk of missing classes or exams, or dropping out due to financial hardship.

There’s also a potential risk to your living situation. Anyone who has rented a home or apartment probably knows that landlords and rental companies often require credit checks for approval, and if your credit has been destroyed as a result of identity theft, you may find yourself turned down for the apartment or house of your dreams. Others may find themselves forced to relocate — one IRTC respondent was victimized by his landlord, which resulted in the need to hire a mover and pay for hotel stays.

3. Your online reputation could be destroyed.

It can be tricky enough to maintain an online reputation when you’re the only one responsible for it. Add identity thieves into the mix, and you could find yourself in for a world of hurt without even realizing why it’s happening. Identity theft is not solely relegated to the theft and misuse of financial or personal information — sometimes people’s social media accounts are taken over, and this can have dire consequences. In other cases, identity thieves create false accounts for their victims and use them to smear their reputation by posting things that paint them in a negative light. It’s important to review privacy settings for any online accounts you have, as well as occasionally perform Google searches for your name to ensure no impostor accounts are floating around.

4. Your relationships might be affected.

Unfortunately, an alarming amount of identity theft is committed by someone the victim already knows — a family member, a friend, a business associate, etc. When you get down to the bottom of your identity theft and it’s someone you thought you could trust, you might find your world as you know it spinning out of control. This is especially the case if your identity was stolen by a close family member, such as a spouse or a parent. For others, the stress of experiencing identity theft could lead to their personal relationships crumbling. There is a significant correlation between financial health and relationship health, and many romantic relationships don’t survive a heavy financial hit. The ITRC found that 32% of survey respondents reported family life stress, while 17% said a relationship had ended or been negatively impacted by the identity theft. It’s important to take care of your psychological needs while dealing with identity theft, or any other crime, so that you can maintain healthy relationships and lean into the support of those around you.

Something that can help take the stress out of identity theft, especially the process of restoration, is an identity theft protection service. Most of the top-rated services offer access to resolution specialists who will help you file the necessary paperwork and make the calls to get your good name restored, as well as monitor your personal and financial information for evidence of misuse on the Internet black market and public records. These services also monitor your three-bureau credit reports, and let you view your credit reports so you can spot any potential errors that could be the signs that someone is using your identity.

Learn more about identity theft protection services by reading our reviews, and keep following our identity theft blog for more tips and information on protecting yourself.