Define Identity Theft

Define Identity Theft

Identity Theft is a term used to use another person's identity for personal gain. The term is relatively new and is actually a misnomer, since it is not inherently possible to steal an identity, only to use it. The person whose identity is used can suffer various consequences when he is held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. In many countries specific laws make it a crime to use another person's identity for personal gain.

Identity Theft Types

Identity theft is sub-divided into five categories:
  • business identity theft - using another's business name to obtain credit

  • criminal identity theft - posing as another when apprehended for a crime

  • financial identity theft - using another's identity to obtain goods and services

  • identity cloning - using another's information to assume his or her identity

  • medical identity theft - using another's information to obtain medical care or drugs
Identity theft may be used to facilitate crimes including illegal immigration, terrorism, and espionage. Identity theft may also be a means of blackmail. There are also cases of identity cloning to attack payment systems, including online credit card processing and medical insurance.

Some individuals may impersonate others for non-financial reasons - for instance, to receive praise or attention for the victim's achievements. This is sometimes referred to as identity theft in the media.

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