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What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a crime whereby criminals impersonate individuals, usually for financial gain. In today’s society, you often need to reveal personal bits of information about yourself, such as your social security number, signature, name, address, phone number, cell number or even banking and credit card information. If a thief is able to access this personal information, he or she can use it to commit fraud in your name.
Armed with your personal information, a malicious person could do any number of things, like apply for loans or new credit card accounts. It’s possible they could request a billing address change and run up your existing credit card without your knowledge. A thief could use counterfeit checks and debit cards or authorize electronic transfers in your name and wipe out funds in a bank account. Thieves can use your information to obtain a driver’s license or other documentation that would display their photo but your name and information. With these documents thieves could obtain a job and file fraudulent income tax returns, apply for travel documents, file insurance claims, or even provide your name and mailing address to police and other authorities if involved in other criminal activities.
By The Numbers
Consider these identity theft statistics:
In 2017, 6.64 percent of consumers became victims of identity fraud — that’s about 1 in 15 people.
Overall, 33 percent of U.S. adults have experienced identity theft, which is more than twice the global average.
One in five victims of identity theft have experienced it more than once
Over 1 million children in the U.S. were victims of identity theft in 2017, costing families $540 million in out-of-pocket expenses
There’s a new victim of identity theft every 2 seconds
Identity theft is one of the most common consequences of data breaches, and exposed consumer records jumped 126 percent in 2018
Emotional distress is reported by 77.3 percent of identity theft victims