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Types of Identity Theft

The term identity theft is a catchall phrase used to describe a number of crimes involving the use of another person’s personal information. The most common type of identity theft is credit card fraud, but there are a number of other crimes that fit within the description of identity theft.

In addition to the financial implications of identity theft, stealing another person’s identity may ultimately be used to facilitate illegal immigration or terrorist activities, to conduct espionage, or to blackmail others. There has recently been an increase in cases of medical identity theft as well.

In many of these cases, information about the victims was farmed from the Internet through phishing scams and other forms of Internet fraud. The information is usually pulled out of the victim’s e-mail or off of their hard drive, after the suspect planted a Trojan or other spyware device. Using modern anti-spam software such as ParetoLogic’s Spam Control & PC Toosl Spam Monitor can prevent thieves from obtaining your identity.

Financial Identity Theft

Classic bank fraud occurs when an individual obtains money through a loan by impersonating someone else. The fraudulent individual is able to provide accurate identifying information of the victim including name, social security number, date of birth, address, phone number, and any other information the financial institution may require.

In these cases it can be difficult to identify the suspect, especially when the entire transaction took place via the Internet. The criminal obtains the money pretending to be the victim but never repays the loan, the bank is out the money, and the victim gets blamed for the default. Unless the money was sent to a traceable address, the suspect usually escapes without discovery of his true identity.

Other forms of financial identity theft include account takeovers, where a suspect will pass counterfeit checks written against a victim’s account. In these cases it can be difficult for the victim to convince the bank that they did not write the checks themselves, and will normally need to file a police report in order to recoup any associated expenses.

Criminal Identity Theft

This occurs when a person is arrested by the police for a criminal offense and the arrested person identifies himself as another person. Rather than use a false identity, the criminal has assumed an identity he has stolen from someone else. The victim is usually completely unaware of such circumstances unless a warrant is issued for the victim’s arrest or his driver’s license becomes suspended. In these cases, the victim has criminal charges added to his record, usually without any knowledge of it.

Once this happens, it can be a long and arduous process for the victim to clear their arrest record, if at all. It usually involves a lengthy court process and, many times, the situation never fully resolves itself.

Identity Theft Through Identity Cloning

Sometimes this crime is called false personation of another. Many times the suspect in such identity theft crimes is trying to avoid arrest, is hiding from creditors, or is in the country illegally. While they may not be trying to steal from the victim, their impersonation of the victim can cause headaches such as unreported income on tax returns.

Commercial Identity Theft

In these cases, the thief tries to obtain credit using a business name and information. This is probably one of the least likely scenarios for identity theft.

In most instances of identity theft, information is obtained through Internet transactions. Criminals invade the victim’s e-mail inboxes and web sites, phishing for personal information that can be used to impersonate the victim. Identity theft may include financial crimes, or it may not. Either way it usually amounts to a headache for the victim, accompanied by negative credit reports and possibly troubles with the IRS.

Utilizing software on your computer designed to protect you from identity theft is your first line of defense against such crimes. ParetoLogic & PC Tools manufactures such software, with Anti-Spyware and Spam Control packages designed to protect your inbox and your hard drive from the prying eyes that may be trying to steal your identity.