The Federal Trade Commission explains how identity theft is committed: By co-opting your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information for their own use. In short, identity theft occurs when someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft.

Identity Theft

Once identity theft is committed, then what? Once identity thieves fake your identity, they:

  • Open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. When they use the credit card and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
  • Call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your impostor runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there’s a problem.
  • Establish cellular phone service in your name.
  • Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.

Without regular monitoring of your credit reports, you may learn of identity theft only when you are contacted by creditors to make payments on debts you did not authorize or are rejected for a loan.

Problems You Can Encounter
My wallet was stolen in December 1998. There’s been no end to the problems I’ve faced since then. The thieves used my identity to write checks, use a debit card, open a bank account with a line of credit, open credit accounts with several stores, obtain cell phones and run up huge bills, print fraudulent checks on a personal computer bearing my name, and more. I’ve spent the last two years trying to repair my credit report (a very frustrating process) and have suffered the ill effects of having a marred credit history. I’ve recently been denied a student loan because of inaccurate information on my credit report.
From a consumer complaint to the FTC, February 22, 2001I’m tired of the hours I’ve spent on the phone and all the faxing I’ve had to do. When will it be over?
From a consumer complaint to the FTC, March 13, 2001Tomorrow is Sunday so we won’t get any notices, but I’m not looking forward to Monday’s mail.
From a consumer complaint to the FTC, November 13, 2001