Identity theft is a term which is used with the term fraud. This involves stealing money or stealing other people's identity for personal gain. Identity theft might not sound very threatening or dangerous, but in reality it is one of the most dangerous crimes that can be committed. In many countries there are very strict laws against stealing other people's information.
The non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center has sub divided identity theft in to four major categories. Financial identity theft, which is when a person uses another person's identity. The person stealing the identity may purchase goods and other services while posing as another person. Criminal identity theft is when one person poses as another to do criminal work. Identity cloning is when a person steals another person's identity and start to use it in daily life. Business or commercial identity theft is using another person's business identity for financial gain.
A classic example for financial identity theft is bank fraud. Bank fraud is when a person obtains a loan from a bank by impersonating some one else. The criminal will provide all the information required to obtain a personal loan like name, date of birth, social security number, address and all other required information and material. Even if the relevant information is checked against the data at a national consumer reporting agency, the bank or lender will have no problems because all the information that is provided will match the records. This is especially true when the transaction is done through telephone, fax or through the internet. The person who committed the crime will obviously not pay back the loan, so the victim will wrongly be accused of defaulting on a loan he or she never authorized. In most cases the victim does not even know that a loan has been taken under his name until he gets the warning from the lender to repay the amount taken.
When a criminal who is required by the law for some crime he/she has committed, identifies him/her self as some one else to the police, it is known as criminal identity theft. The criminal will have all the legal documents like the ID and social security number obtained illegally so that he or she can prove that they are some one else. When the criminal is caught for a different crime he/she provides the fake personal details. Then the person is released by the authorities after fixing a date to hear the case in courts. When the criminal does not show on the day of the hearing, a warrant is issued to arrest the victim.
Identity cloning is when some one else steals your personal information and then impersonates you. This is mostly done for concealment from authorities. Most criminals who are trying to avoid arrest use this technique. Identity cloning is also committed by illegal foreign immigrants and people who are hiding from creditors or other individuals. A person concealing themselves as some one else may do it for long periods of time without being detected.
Criminals often use other people's identification to fullfill their personal need to hide or for personal or financial gain. Some techniques they use to steal personal information is by stealing mail and going through personal garbage (dumpster diving), stealing information through computers, researching about another person through government registers, net search engines and public records, stealing credit cards or ID cards or any other personal information certifiers, hacking into personal transactions and hacking through personal databases, advertising for false job opportunities to which people reply with their personal information, breaking into the victims work place in order to obtain personal and official information about the victim and so on.
All these methods mentioned above are some of the ways that identity theft is done and how they can really harm you and your family. Make sure that you protect your personal information at all costs. It is one of the most important and valuable belongings that you have. Please do understand that the above mentioned crimes are only the tip of the ice-burg. Given the opportunity criminals will do everything they can to steal from you and leave you with absolutely nothing. So please do take care of your personal information.