Identity theft is the wrongful taking of someone else?s ?real world? identity for the purpose of committing fraud. Typically the thief gets their hands on enough information to pretend to be someone else. The thief may open up fraudulent credit card accounts, apply for loans, or try to secure other property using the stolen identity. Some may even go as far as using your name to land a job and stick you with the taxes from the I.R.S. Perhaps the scariest aspect is that you could actually be arrested for a crime that someone else committed while using your identity.
The Federal Trade Commission released a survey in September of 2003 showing that 27.3 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the last five years, including 9.9 million people in the last year alone.
This equates to approximately 4.6% of the U.S. population! According to the FTC survey, 2002 identity theft losses to businesses and financial institutions totaled nearly $48 billion and consumer victims reported $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses. This is a growing problem.