What is identity theft?

Identity theft, or identity fraud, is used to describe crimes in which an individual wrongfully accesses and fraudulently uses another individual’s personal data, usually for financial gain. Such crimes can occur in public places. For instance, criminals may watch you from a location that is sufficiently close to enable them to see you enter your credit card number. Or they may overhear you provide your credit card number over the telephone.

If criminals have obtained enough information about you, they can assume your identity and commit a wide variety of crimes. For example, they can submit false applications for loans and credit cards in your name. They can also fraudulently withdraw funds from your bank accounts, or use your online accounts.

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