"Publicity regarding severe cases of identity theft in the print and electronic media and portrayal of the risk of identity theft in a number of effective television commercials have raised public awareness about identity theft. Arguably, however, few persons are aware of the complexities of the many issues involved with this crime, which is really a large set of fraudulent activities ranging in size from minor swindles to major crimes using stolen identities." (Identity Theft -- A Research Review, National Institute of Justice).
Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another individual's personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. Unlike fingerprints, which are unique to an individual and cannot be given to someone else for their use, personal data - especially Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers, telephone calling card numbers, and other valuable identifying data - can be used by someone to personally profit at the victim's expense (Identify Theft and Identity Fraud Web page, U.S. Department of Justice).
Unauthorized persons take funds out of others' bank or financial accounts or take over their identities altogether, running up debts and committing crimes while using the victims' names. A victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but additional costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information about his financial or personal status (Identify Theft and Identity Fraud Web page, U.S. Department of Justice).
As presented in the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft: What to Know - What to Do, identity thieves might:
This topical resource on Identity Theft contains the following information:
Facts and Figures – Includes the latest information and statistics.
Legislation – A sample of links to online Federal and State legislation and testimony.
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Training and Technical Assistance – A sample of training and technical assistance opportunities available through nationally recognized agencies and associations.
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