What is Identity Theft

Identity theft is when someone steals or obtains access to your personal data and uses it for personal gain. For example, if someone were to get personal information about you, by theft or other, and use it for their own personal benefit without your knowledge or permission, this is considered identity theft.

Types of Information

Information targeted by identity thieves is often any private information that can be used to identify the victim or used to verify access to additional information, such as personal account information. Some common types of information include social security, license number, name, date of birth, address, and phone number. Thieves also look for information pertaining to your financial identity, such as bank account or credit card information.

How Your Identity is Stolen

Identity thieves are very cleaver at the way they steal your information. One of the most common ways is to take it without your permission; this is can be done by a number of different ways. A more clever way in which thieves obtain your personal data is through elaborate identity scams designed to deceit you into volunteering your information.

Who is Targeted

Anyone can become victim to identity theft. However, most targeted, is elderly and young adults. Elderly people are often targeted because they can be easily persuaded by various identity scams used by thieves.

Young adults are another targeted demographic because they often don’t take precautions to protect their personal information; this is because most young adults believe they are unlikely victims because they aren’t financially established yet. The problem with identity theft is that the personal information that thieves prey on can be used for more than just depositing your money or charging your credit cards.

How your Identity is Used

Identity thieves can use your personal data a number of different ways, all of which should create headaches for you. One of the more common ways is to acquire goods and services under your identity, leaving you responsible for any charges or fees that may occur. This is often done by emptying out your bank accounts, charging your credit cards, or making purchases with your information, such as car rental or hotel reservations. In some extreme instances, stolen identities have been used to rent out homes, file fraudulent tax returns, get a job, bank loan or even receive medical care. Some thieves have even used stolen identification when being pulled over or arrested by police, resulting in warrants being falsely issued in the victim’s name.

Is Identity Theft a Crime

In 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deference Act (commonly referred to as the Identity Theft Act), making identity theft a federal crime punishable by law. Under the act, the penalties for an identity theft conviction can include up to 15 years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines, and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the crime.