What is Identity Theft?

Written By: Glenn Michaels, Op-Ed Writer

Identity theft occurs when someone steals someone else’s identity and personal information. Identity theft is a very serious crime that has been on the rise over the last decade and is becoming more common. If someone steals your identity you may not realize it has happened but it can affect you for months or years to come. You may heard of identity theft in the news, but you are really sure what it is or how it can affect your personal credit.

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Identity theft occurs when someone steals someone else’s personal information, such as their name, social security numbers, account numbers and are used without their knowledge with the intent to commit fraud or theft. It is most commonly done when someone uses someone else’s personal information to obtain credit in their name to steal funds or personal property for their benefit.

These identity thieves in possession of consumers personal information can make unauthorized purchases on their credit cards apply for new credit cards apply for new loans, cash bad checks, lease cars or mislead authorities ultimately doing serious damage to someone else’s credit history.

The average person will not be held liable for fraudulent charges, but clearing your name and credit history can be a time consuming, frustrating and lengthy process. In the most serious cases, it could take months or even years to complete, and during that time you may find it hard to obtain a loan or a new job. As with many crimes, the impact can be emotional as well as financial.

Common types of Identity Theft

The most common type of identity theft is someone using a stolen credit card numbers, debit cards, personal checks by obtaining your account information to make purchases or withdraw money from your accounts.

These identity thefts are often detected easily when the bank statements are received and reviewed. It is most important to review each monthly statement to detect unauthorized charges and/or withdrawals.

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Another identity theft is when identity thieves open new accounts in your name without your knowledge or authorization. This is done less frequent but can easily happen if an identity theft has your personal information. The identity thieves might try to open new accounts in your name using your address, social security number and other personal information. The thieves then obtain credit your name and make purchases with the newly opened accounts. Sometimes they will use a different mailing address and you might not even learn that fraudulent accounts exist until you check your credit report.

That is the prime reason why everyone should obtain annually a copy of their credit report to examine it to see if there are unauthorized accounts listed.

About The Author

Glenn Michaels - As an op-ed writer, Glenn Michaels is a mortgage underwriting instructor for CampusUnderwriter (www.MortgageUnderwriter.org). As a BBA & FHA DE Underwriter, Glenn is a Pace University graduate who also graduated from New York University’s School of Mortgage Finance. Glenn has conducted numerous training classes and has worked in the mortgage banking industry for 38 years. 

Opinion-Editorial (Op-Ed) Disclaimer For NAMU® Library Articles: The views and opinions expressed in the NAMU® Library articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official NAMU® policy or position. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world application as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of NAMU®. Nothing contained in this articles should be considered legal advice.