Identity Theft occurs when someone, without your knowledge, acquires a piece of your personal information and uses it to commit fraud.
Identity theft is a crime used to refer to fraud that involves someone pretending to be someone else in order to steal money or get other benefits. The term is relatively new and is actually a misnomer, since it is not inherently possible to steal an identity, only to use it. The person whose identity is used can suffer various consequences when he or she is held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. In many countries specific laws make it a crime to use another person's identity for personal gain. Identity theft is somewhat different from identity fraud, which is related to the usage of a false identity' to commit fraud.
Identity theft can be divided into two broad categories:
- Application fraud
- Account takeover
Application fraud happens when a criminal uses stolen or fake documents to open an account in someone else's name. Criminals may try to steal documents such as utility bills and bank statements to build up useful personal information. On the other hand they may create counterfeit documents.
Account takeover happens when a criminal tries to take over another person's account, first by gathering information about the intended victim, then contacting their card issuer masquerading as the genuine cardholder, and asking for mail to be redirected to a new address. The criminal then reports the card lost and asks for a replacement to be sent.