What is identity theft?
Identity theft is a crime that involves one person appropriating the personal information of another in order to commit fraud. Identity thieves wrongfully obtain the names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and bank account numbers of their victims. They use this information to open credit card accounts, apply for loans, purchase homes, obtain second mortgages, and open bank accounts. Thieves can obtain victims by “dumpster diving”, looking through a victim’s trash, electronic key loggers inserted into a junk email sent to the victim, or calling a victim posing as a representative from their bank verifying information.
Oftentimes, seasoned identity thieves are crafty enough to put in for a change of address at the post office immediately after applying for an account. This way the victim does not receive the unpaid bills and realize that something is amiss. Being a victim of identity theft can mean ruined credit and a host of other hassles and problems. Identity theft is a white collar crime that is considered a felony offense and thieves face light to medium sentences or no jail time at all if caught.
Types of Identity Theft
Identity theft can take several forms. The one common denominator is unauthorized use of an individual’s personal information with the intent to commit fraud. According to some statistics, identity theft is used most often to commit credit card fraud, bank account fraud, and phone/utilities fraud.
True Name Fraud
True name fraud occurs when an identity thief uses a victim’s data to open new accounts. Thieves usually use such accounts to make large purchases that they never pay off. It is usually in true name fraud that a thief changes the billing address so the victim does not find out about the delinquent account.