Identity Theft and Identity Fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
In public places, for example, criminals may engage in shoulder surfing (watching you from a nearby location as you punch in your telephone calling card number or credit card number) or listen in on your conversation if you give your credit card number over the telephone.
If you receive applications for pre-approved credit cards in the mail, but discard them without tearing up the enclosed materials, criminals may retrieve them and try to activate the cards for their use without your knowledge. Also, if your mail is delivered to a place where others have ready access to it, criminals may simply intercept and redirect your mail to another location.
Many people respond to spam (unsolicited email) that promises them some benefit but requests identifying data, without realizing that in many cases the requester has no intention of keeping his promise. In some cases, criminals reportedly have used computer technology to steal large amounts of personal data.
If someone is using your personal or financial information to make purchases, receive benefits, file taxes, or commit fraud, that's Identity Theft. This eBook will guide you through the recovery process.
If you're dealing with Tax Identity Theft, Medical Identity Theft, or Child Identity Theft, read the chapter entitled SPECIAL FORMS OF IDENTITY THEFT. If you have had personal or financial information lost or stolen, refer to the chapter entitled DATA BREACHES AND LOST OR STOLEN INFORMATION.