Identity theft is a serious crime. And identity is much more than just credit.
Identity theft itself is nothing new--it has been going on for decades, it just that it has become so much easier to steal and sell identity information. Data breaches in the U.S. over the past few years have exposed information from virtually every adult in the U.S. and that information is now open for possible fraud.
People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years – and thousands of dollars – cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of a good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims of identity theft may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing, or cars, and even get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.
- Social Security number
- credit card numbers
- bank account numbers
- driver's license number
- home address and phone number
- health insurance information
- Go on spending sprees using your credit and debit card account numbers to buy “big-ticket” items like computers that they can easily sell.
- Open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and SSN. When they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
- Change the mailing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on the account. Because the bills are being sent to the new address, it may take some time before you realize there’s a problem.
- Take out loans in your name & not keep up with payments
- Establish phone or other utility services in your name. Or run up charges on an existing account
- Counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
- Open a new bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
- They may counterfeit checks or credit or debit cards, or authorize electronic transfers in your name, and drain your bank account.
- Use your name to get government benefits
- All of a sudden the IRS is after you because you owe back taxes
- Get a driver's license with your name & their picture
- Give your name to the police during an arrest. If they are released and don’t show up for their court date, an arrest warrant could be issued in your name.
- You get turned down for a job because a background check says you’re a convicted felon.