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.
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.
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