Identity theft is when someone uses
your personal information (your name, Social Security number, bank and credit
card account numbers, address) to steal from you or create new accounts in your
name without your permission. Identity theft can ruin your credit. Below are some answers
to frequently asked questions about identity theft.
How do thieves steal
identities? There are many ways thieves steal identities,
They steal wallets, purses, and briefcases to gain access
to your credit cards, driver's license, passport, and other personal
They look for personal data by going through your
trash. This is also known as "dumpster diving."
They steal your mail, including your bank statements,
pre-approved credit card offers, new checks, and tax information.
They pose as legitimate companies or government agencies
in order to get your personal information.
They use personal information that you shared on the
Through an e-mail attachment that you open or download,
they could release a virus on your computer. The virus acts as a spyware
program that records what you type and the Web sites you visit and allows the
thief to acquire your personal information.
They are usually someone you know, such as a roommate,
relative or friend because you may share your information with them without
knowing they will use it for other purposes.
What do thieves do with stolen personal
information? Identity thieves commit fraud or theft
once they have your personal information. Some common examples
They withdraw money from your bank accounts.
They open a new credit
card account in your name and run up charges. This can lead to
overdue credit card payments appearing on your credit report.
They apply for a loan in your name and take the
money. This can lead to overdue loan payments appearing on your credit report
They buy a car by taking out an auto loan in your name.
They may give your name to the police during an arrest
and if you don't show up for the court date, a warrant for arrest can be
issued in your name.