What Is Identity Theft?

It’s more than a simple impersonation of someone.

You’ve heard of people impersonating a police officer, or the girl who claimed to be Jessica Simpson’s personal assistant and securing thousands of dollars of items she used for herself.

Identity theft is a crime that occurs – usually without attaching a face to a name – until the criminal is caught.

Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes.

A con artist appropriates another’s name, address, Social Security number or other identifying information and uses that information to open new credit card accounts, take over existing accounts, obtain loans in the victim’s name or steal funds from the victim’s checking, savings, or investment accounts.

“Identity theft” is technically defined as the use, transfer or theft of personal identifying information for the purpose of committing a crime.

Federal law prevents identity theft victims from being held liable for bills incurred by imposters.

Consumers, however, can spend months, and even years, in repairing the damage to their good credit.  Businesses are affected greatly as well by this crime.  They have given out goods and services with illegally obtained credit cards.  With credit protection, as long as the victim can prove they didn’t make the purchases, these businesses must write off the bill without recovering the merchandise.

A similar crime is identity fraud.

A variety of abuses of the bankruptcy system, including the concealment of assets in bankruptcy, the making of false sworn financial statements in bankruptcy proceedings, and the filing of bankruptcies under false social security numbers are often dubbed “identity fraud” by prosecutors and government regulators.

Cons attempt to obtain the benefits of bankruptcy such as relief from debt collection, while attempting to escape negative credit consequences.

In one case they leased a residence and obtained credit with the name and social security number of an unsuspecting victim then they occupied the residence, ran up the credit cards, and then filed for bankruptcy in the victim’s name.  One bankruptcy petition was filed in the name of a recently deceased father.

Such fraudulent bankruptcy filings often wreak havoc on innocent people who must spend substantial resources to clear their credits and their names. The rampant theft and abuse of other people’s credit histories and social security numbers has become one of the biggest problems of consumer bankruptcy fraud.

Both crimes have become rampant affecting millions and millions of people in the United States alone. You may think you’re protected, but you may be surprised exactly how these criminals get your personal information.

Click here for a book that provides more information on Identity Theft.

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