Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, normally for financial gain. A thief who steals your credit card or checking account number could make fraudulent charges against the accounts. Or a thief who steals your Social Security number could use it to open financial accounts in your name, such as loans, new credit cards, or even telephone or utility service.
Identities can also be stolen for legal or medical purposes. A thief could use your identity after being pulled over for a traffic violation, so that your driving record takes the hit. Or a thief could use your identity to receive medical treatment covered by your health insurance.