Identity theft refers to types of crimes in which an individual wrongfully obtains and makes use of another person’s personal information in a way that involves fraud, most often for financial gain.
Profits and Information
Profits can be made from personal data such as Social Security numbers, bank account/credit card information, telephone calling card numbers, and other personal and identifying data. Many unauthorized transactions have been recorded in the United States and Canada where funds have been transferred from the victim’s bank or financial account without their consent. In worse situations people have reported their identities stolen altogether, resulting in vast debt and other crimes committed using the victim’s name.
A victim’s losses may include more than personal finances but even additional costs associated with attempting to restore his or her reputation within the community and undoing erroneous information caused by the criminal responsible.
How Identity Theft Occurs
Personal data can be obtained without breaking into someone’s home. Many criminals “shoulder surf,” waiting and observing for credit card numbers being used and listening for conversations in which people release credit card information via telephone.
Many criminals are charged with “dumpster diving” or sifting through garbage bins in order to obtain check stubs, bank statements or receipts, credit card statements, or any information containing a person’s personal information such as name, addresses, or phone numbers.
In recent cases, criminals have used remote resources such as computer technology to obtain vast amounts of personal information.