What is Identity Theft?
One person (or more), using information gathered from various sources, takes on the identity of another person without permission and conducts illegal activities using that identity. The intent is to use that identity for personal monetary gain, with the intent to defraud others. Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good n ame and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.
How do thieves steal an identity?
Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personal identifying information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold.
Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including: dumpster diving, skimming, phishing, changing your address, lost or stolen purses, stolen mail from mailboxes, etc. Some thieves go “wholesale” by getting lists of personal information through computer hacking, theft or bribery. This information can be re-sold to other criminals or used numerous times by the original thief or thieves. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States.