What is Identity Theft

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The Definition of Identity Theft

The quick and easy answer is that identity theft is a crime. Identity theft and identity fraud are phrases generally used to refer to crimes in which someone illegally takes and uses a persons private information for the purpose of deception, fraud and more specifically financial gain. The purpose of this site is to help you understand the complexities of identity theft, as well as the importance of protecting yourself against id theft and fraud.

Your personal information, including your credit card numbers, social security number, bank accounts, phone data and other identifying information can easily fall into the wrong hands if not secured properly.  While your fingerprints are a unique identifier of who you are and cannot be used by anyone else for illicit means, your personal data can be stolen and used fraudulently.  It’s possible for identity thieves to steal some or all of your personal information.  In North America, cases of reported identity theft range from funds stolen from bank accounts and unauthorized credit card purchase, all the way to complete identity takeovers. In these cases the criminals have run up large debts, applied for home and car loans and even committed crimes in the name of the individual who’s information they have stolen. In these extreme cases of identity theft, the victims have the potential of losing any money that was stolen from bank accounts or charged to credit, but also they face the financial burden of trying to repair their damaged credit an restore their good name.  This process can take months to complete and is a nightmare scenario for any individual.

Examples of Identity Theft

One particular case of identity theft that has been in the spotlight involves a convicted felon, who charged more than $100,000 of debt on his victim’s credit cards.  In addition, he also purchased homes, cars, motorcycles, and weapons, all under the stolen identity of a helpless victim.  To add insult to injury, the criminal called to taunt his victim, stating that he could continue using the victim’s identity as long as he liked, without repercussion.  Eventually, the criminal filed for bankruptcy, in the victims name and was never prosecuted for his crimes, nor was he forced to make any amount of restitution.  The victim, however, spent over $15,000 and more than four years of his life trying to restore his reputation and credit.  It was this case that persuaded Congress to develop new federal laws related to identity theft.