Introduction to Identity Theft

The 1990’s spawned a new variety of crooks: identity thieves. Their stock in trade? Your everyday transactions, which usually reveal bits of your personal information: your bank and credit card account numbers; your income; your Social Security number; or your name, address and phone numbers. An identity thief obtains some piece of your sensitive information and uses it without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft.

Fraud and identity theft are serious crimes. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years – and their hard-earned money – cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. Some victims have lost job opportunities, been refused loans for education, housing or cars, or even been arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.

Can you prevent fraud or identity theft from occurring? As with any crime, you cannot completely control whether you will become a victim. But, you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information cautiously and with heightened sensitivity.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person’s personal identifying information. Often, identity thieves will use another person’s information, such as a Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or account number to open fraudulent new credit card accounts, write checks, open bank accounts, or obtain new loans.

Information provided by brochure from the Federal Trade Commission.