Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America today. It occurs when someone illegally obtains your personal information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth or bank account number, and uses it to open new accounts or initiate transactions in your name.
A criminal could use your personal information to:
• Open new credit cards
• Open new bank accounts
• Make counterfeit checks
• Apply for loans
Because your personal information can be illegally used in multiple ways, identity theft can cause financial loss, damage your credit and result in a lengthy resolution process.
While identity theft is often characterized as a high-tech crime that affects only those who shop or do business online, the majority of identity theft occurs offline. Some of the common tactics used by thieves to obtain personal information are decidedly low-tech: stealing wallets and purses, intercepting mail and rummaging through garbage.