Identity Theft

Identity theft is a form of taking, accessing, or using someone’s personal information such as their name, social security number, or credit card number, without their permission, pretending to be someone else by assuming another’s identity, or creating a fake identity.

It is often done to gain access to resources, to obtain credit, or to obtain benefits by using another’s information. Sometimes the perpetrator uses another’s personally identifying information to commit fraud or other crimes.

There are several types of identity theft:

  1. Financial Identity Theft
    • Financial identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s identity to obtain credit, goods, or services.
    • Someone may actually steal your credit card or debit card, or they may steal your credit card number or bank account number
    • If you are a victim, request a new card, change your account number, and change your account password and pin number. For more tips on how to protect yourself, see our checklist.
  2. Medical Identity Theft
    • Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s identity to obtain medical care or drugs.
    • You may receive an invoice or a collection notice for services you did not obtain.
    • Contact the provider of the service and explain it was not you in order to dispute the charge and to correct any inaccuracies in your medical history.
    • For more information visit the FTC’s website.
  3. Insurance Identity Theft
    • Insurance identity theft occurs when someone uses your information to obtain insurance coverage or benefits or to obtain health care services and products. Auto insurance, personal property insurance, and health insurance are all subject to abuse.
    • As an example, someone might open an insurance policy using your identification information.
    • It is often intertwined with medical identity theft or financial identity theft.
    • If someone is using your information, you might have higher premiums or even become unable to obtain insurance for you and your family.
  4. Synthetic Identity Theft
    • Synthetic identity theft occurs when someone uses various data elements of others in order to create a synthetic, or fake, person.
    • When the credit files of unrelated consumers become mixed so that the credit file contains data which should be attributed to one person and not the other, it can be considered “synthetic” identity theft.
    • Your credit may show loans or lines of credit that do not belong to you, and if delinquent, it may negatively impact your ability to get credit or more favorable rates.
  5. Driver’s License Identity Theft
    • Driver’s license identity theft occurs when someone obtains a driver’s license using your personal information.
    • You may lose you license or be unable to renew it if the thief has obtained a license using your information.
    • The thief may accumulate traffic violations which will appear on your driving record.
    • If you are a victim, obtain a copy of your driving record from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and correct any errors.
    • File a fraud report with the DMV enforcement office in the state you live in and report the bad record to local law enforcement.
    • If you suspect you are a victim, contact your insurance company and any other entities that might have your driver’s license number on file for identification or verification purposes. If you suspect you are a victim, have police check the records of other states as well as the state where you live.
  6. Criminal Identity Theft
    • Criminal identity theft occurs when someone poses as another person when being investigated or apprehended for a crime.
    • An imposter may give another person’s name and personal information such as a driver’s license, date of birth, or Social Security number (SSN) to a law enforcement officer, often that of a friend or relative.
    • A warrant may be wrongly issued for your arrest or you may be wrongly accused of a crime. You could be denied a passport or a job.
  7. Social Security Identity Theft
    • Social Security fraud occurs when someone uses your social security number (SSN) to start a new life.
    • There can be as many as 20 different users of one SSN.
    • Fill out the Social Security Administration’s online complaint form or call them at 1-800-269-0271 to report the activity. For more tips on how to protect yourself, see our checklist.
  8. Child Identity Theft
    • Child identity theft occurs when the child’s Social Security number is used to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live.
    • Request your child’s credit report to see if your child’s information is being misused.
    • For more information visit the FTC’s website.
    • With more and more minors online, either playing games or on social networking cites, here is a publication from the FTC about talking to your kids about being online.

File a Complaint

The Attorney General’s Office has set up a hotline to help you recognize and report identity theft. Complaint investigators will also help advise victims of identity theft. Call the AGO consumer hotline at 800-392-8222.

Other Resources