Identity theft is a crime that occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes ― most commonly to obtain access to credit in your name. For example, an identity thief may steal your Social Security number and open, or attempt to open, a credit account under your name.
Personal information includes:
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license number
- Bank account number
- Credit card number
- Personal identification numbers
- Mother’s maiden name, or other information used as a security screen
- Any other piece of key information that can be used to gain access to a person’s financial resources or to assume a person’s identity
How does identity theft occur?
- Mail ― Looking for red flag up on mailboxes and bill payments
- Trash ― Digging for discarded receipts, credit card and bank account statements, credit card applications, etc.
- Wallet or purse ― One of the most common ways of obtaining personal information
- Home ― Stealing important documents, such as credit card and bank account statements, checkbooks, Social Security cards, drivers’ licenses and birth certificates
- Relatives and friends ― A Better Business Bureau survey found you are as likely to have your identity stolen by a relative, friend or acquaintance as online.
- Computers ― Illegally gaining access to computers to steal your personal information, such as following financial transactions
- Businesses ― Bribing employees who have access to personal information at businesses
- Security or data breaches can occur by illegally accessing information on computers, theft from the business or from someone posing as a legitimate client or accidentally.
- Email phishing: Posing as a legitimate company, emails request verification of personal information, which legitimate businesses will never do
- Phone pretexting ― Calling and posing as a legitimate company, requesting you verify personal information, or they may contact an information source, posing as you, seeking personal information
Order ID theft tip cards and brochures.
Download identity theft tips provided on the Attorney General's website in a PDF.
Federal Trade Commission
Identity theft site
Tools for victims
Department of the Treasury
Identity theft resource page
U.S. Postal Service
ID theft via mail complaints