What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when a family member, friend, neighbor, coworker, or stranger gains access to your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and uses it without your knowledge. Your PII includes your Social Security Number, credit card numbers, email logins/passcodes, driver’s license number, and much more.



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How Can Your Identity Be Used?

Once someone begins exploiting your identity, there are literally hundreds of ways they can affect your finances, medical coverage, and government records. Some can be extremely serious.

Identity thieves can open credit card accounts or take out sizable loans in your name.

Permanent criminal records can be created when someone represents themselves as you.

Your tax refund can be claimed by a thief before you even file your return.

Who Is At Risk for Identity Theft?

Virtually everyone is exposed to some level of risk, but thieves tend to favor targets that fit certain lifestyle and behavioral profiles.

Mobile Phone Use

Most people never consider how much personal and financial information is stored in their phone or how accessible it is, until it’s lost or stolen. Once a thief cracks a password—if one is even used—they can inflict serious damage.

Online Shopping

Every online transaction involves sharing personal details and account information. Unscrupulous websites and hackers specialize in taking advantage of that. In the worst case scenario, your information can be sold on the “black market” and become exploited by anyone, the world over.

Children

Any child, from infancy to their teen years, can be a prime target. Why? Because thieves can establish credit cards, take our loans, and develop criminal records in a child’s name without anyone noticing. It’s only when your child applies for a college loan or receives an arrest warrant that reality can set in.

Social Media Use

Few of us realize how many personal details we surrender on social media. From vacation plans, to children’s names, our addresses, and our place of employment, thieves count on us leaving it all out in the open.

Recent or Upcoming Moves

For most people, relocating to a new address involves mountains of paperwork, updating billing information on accounts, movers, and other service professionals. All of this creates varying levels of exposure and specific opportunities for identity thieves.