Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information without your permission. This information may include your name, address, driver's license number, Social Security number, mother's maiden name or birth date, or financial information such as your bank account information, credit card or PIN number.
How can it affect me?
Identity thieves can use your personal information to open credit cards or checking accounts, make purchases using your existing bank account or credit card, get a fraudulent driver’s license or Social Security card, make long distance calls, or apply for a job. However, you can take steps to protect your identity.
In the United States and Canada, for example, many people have reported that unauthorized persons have taken funds out of their bank or financial accounts, or, in the worst cases, taken over their identities altogether, running up vast debts and committing crimes while using the victim’s names. In many cases, a victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but also substantial additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his or her reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible.
Get Educated, Be Proactive!
The following pages are intended to explain why you need to take precautions to protect yourself from identity theft. Unlike your fingerprints, which are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else for their use, your personal data can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands, to personally profit at your expense.