Identity theft is a crime that occurs whenever one or more individuals steal someone else’s personal information for financial gain. The stolen information could be a Social Security number, driver’s license, a credit card, bank account, or any other private data.
If you are the victim of identity theft, a crook could do any or all of these things without your knowledge or consent:
- Buy products or services with your credit cards
- Open new banking or credit accounts using your name or Social Security number. (Identity thieves often open credit cards, or get student loans, car loans, mortgages or personal loans in the names of their victims).
- Apply for a job using your Social Security number
- File an income tax return using your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Get a tax refund check from the IRS that rightfully belongs to you
Identity theft affects an estimated 10 million Americans annually. To protect yourself against this growing crime, follow the advice in The Identity Theft Recovery Guide: What to do When Your Social Security Number or Personal Information Have Been Stolen.