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LEGAL DICTIONARY

Identity Theft

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft happens when a person impersonates you using stolen personal data.

When this occurs, identity thieves could potentially gain access to private personal and financial information such as your:

  • Address and telephone number
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Credit card details
  • Online banking access codes

This is a serious form of fraud that can allow another person to gain access to your bank account, claim medical care in your name, or register for services and ID in your name.

Read on below to learn more about how identity theft occurs and what you can do about it if it happens to you.

What Are the 4 Kinds of Identity Theft?

Whilst identity theft as a term covers a broad range of crimes, however, these can be narrowed down into 4 key subtypes.

The 4 key types of identity theft that usually occur to victims include:

  1. Medical identity theft: This occurs when someone impersonates you to get free healthcare.
  2. Criminal identity theft: A form of identity theft where another person pretends to be you when arrested to dodge arrest, a court summons, or conviction.
  3. Financial identity theft: The most common type of identity theft whereby someone is able to use your credentials to make unauthorized banking transactions or file for taxes fraudulently in your name.
  4. Child identity theft: Whereby someone uses’s a child’s identity to access or register for services or attain work.

The Effects of Identity Theft

Unfortunately, people who experience identity theft can experience many serious repercussions. There can be a lot of issues to untangle should you discover your identity has been stolen.

Many of these are financial problems such as bad credit score, debt, or even bankruptcy in the worst cases.

However, there are many other negative side effects of having your identity stolen such as stress and potential legal trouble in distinguishing your identity from that of the person pretending to be you.

How To Report Identity Theft

If you suspect that your identity has been stolen and is being used fraudulently you should make contact with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via their website IdentityTheft.gov.

Here you will be able to report the crime to the authorities, get advice on what to do next, and create a recovery plan to get control of your accounts back.

When trying to halt existing identity theft, you should also talk to the companies or banks where you have identified the fraudulent activity taking place.

The staff there will be able to help put a hold on these services and accounts until you’ve had time to stop the identity thief completely.

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft can cause many difficulties. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to prevent it with the right precautions.

The first thing you should do is to monitor your accounts and mail carefully, in case you see any suspicious activity that could be signs of identity theft. According to the Federal Government, you should watch out for warning signs such as:

  • Receiving bills for purchases you haven’t made
  • Being sent debt collection notices for accounts you
  • Your card being denied in stores or being refused loans

Also, to protect your information from being accessed and stolen you avoid sharing your passwords or SSN with other people. It’s best to shred mail containing sensitive information before throwing it out so it cannot be found by an identity thief.

You should also try to use robust online protection such as an antivirus and firewall, 2-step login authentication to access your accounts, and complex passwords that can’t be guessed easily.

With identity theft, prevention is always the best cure.

Helpful Resources:
USAGov - Identity Theft

Department of Justice - Identity Theft

Investopedia - What Is Identity Theft?

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft happens when a person impersonates you using stolen personal data.

When this occurs, identity thieves could potentially gain access to private personal and financial information such as your:

  • Address and telephone number
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Credit card details
  • Online banking access codes

This is a serious form of fraud that can allow another person to gain access to your bank account, claim medical care in your name, or register for services and ID in your name.

Read on below to learn more about how identity theft occurs and what you can do about it if it happens to you.

What Are the 4 Kinds of Identity Theft?

Whilst identity theft as a term covers a broad range of crimes, however, these can be narrowed down into 4 key subtypes.

The 4 key types of identity theft that usually occur to victims include:

  1. Medical identity theft: This occurs when someone impersonates you to get free healthcare.
  2. Criminal identity theft: A form of identity theft where another person pretends to be you when arrested to dodge arrest, a court summons, or conviction.
  3. Financial identity theft: The most common type of identity theft whereby someone is able to use your credentials to make unauthorized banking transactions or file for taxes fraudulently in your name.
  4. Child identity theft: Whereby someone uses’s a child’s identity to access or register for services or attain work.

The Effects of Identity Theft

Unfortunately, people who experience identity theft can experience many serious repercussions. There can be a lot of issues to untangle should you discover your identity has been stolen.

Many of these are financial problems such as bad credit score, debt, or even bankruptcy in the worst cases.

However, there are many other negative side effects of having your identity stolen such as stress and potential legal trouble in distinguishing your identity from that of the person pretending to be you.

How To Report Identity Theft

If you suspect that your identity has been stolen and is being used fraudulently you should make contact with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via their website IdentityTheft.gov.

Here you will be able to report the crime to the authorities, get advice on what to do next, and create a recovery plan to get control of your accounts back.

When trying to halt existing identity theft, you should also talk to the companies or banks where you have identified the fraudulent activity taking place.

The staff there will be able to help put a hold on these services and accounts until you’ve had time to stop the identity thief completely.

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft can cause many difficulties. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to prevent it with the right precautions.

The first thing you should do is to monitor your accounts and mail carefully, in case you see any suspicious activity that could be signs of identity theft. According to the Federal Government, you should watch out for warning signs such as:

  • Receiving bills for purchases you haven’t made
  • Being sent debt collection notices for accounts you
  • Your card being denied in stores or being refused loans

Also, to protect your information from being accessed and stolen you avoid sharing your passwords or SSN with other people. It’s best to shred mail containing sensitive information before throwing it out so it cannot be found by an identity thief.

You should also try to use robust online protection such as an antivirus and firewall, 2-step login authentication to access your accounts, and complex passwords that can’t be guessed easily.

With identity theft, prevention is always the best cure.

Helpful Resources:
USAGov - Identity Theft

Department of Justice - Identity Theft

Investopedia - What Is Identity Theft?