Increasing globalization and the expansion of the Internet have provided a challenging environment for law enforcement to both identify and apprehend identity thieves targeting persons residing in the United States. An increase in globalization and a lack of cyber borders provide an environment ripe for identity thieves to operate from within the nation’s borders – as well as from beyond. Identity theft is a kind of fraud or cheating of another person’s identity by which another person pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, typically to be able to access resources or obtain credit as well as other benefits in that person’s name. Identity theft is defined broadly, and it is directly involved in a number of other crimes and frauds. The crimes that an identity thief is able to commit with your personal information range from applying for a credit card under your name before subsequently racking up prodigious charges to poaching your tax refund. They may change the billing address on the victim’s credit card so that the victim no longer receives bills, and then run up charges on the victim’s account. They may open a new phone or wireless account in the victim’s name, or run up charges on the victim’s existing account.

They may open a bank account in the victim’s name and write bad checks. Old-fashioned stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. While many misuses of credit cards are discovered quickly, the “classic” identity theft involves a long period of time to discovery, typically from six months to as long as several years. While some instances may be reported to consumer protection agencies (e.g., the FTC), credit reporting agencies (e.g., Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union), and law enforcement agencies, some instances may be reported to only one. Another issue that may affect analysts’ abilities to evaluate the true extent of identity theft is that law enforcement agencies may not uniformly report identity theft because crime incident reporting forms may not necessarily contain specific categories for identity theft. For example, the FTC indicates that of the 82% of identity theft complaints that included information on whether the theft was reported to law enforcement, 35% were reported to law enforcement.

Issues such as these may lead to discrepancies between data available on identity theft reported by consumers, identity theft reported by state and local law enforcement, and identity theft investigated and prosecuted by federal law enforcement. You’ll also want to list any personal data (for example, credit card numbers, email addresses or your Social Security number) after an identity theft scenario. Ask each credit bureau to take a report, and to place a “banking fraud protection solutions alert” on your credit report. If you identify any accounts you didn’t open on your credit report, contact the companies and close those accounts. Federal regulations require credit card companies to remove disputed items from your bill in order to investigate. Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get the victim to reveal his or her personal information. They provide tools to prevent you from phishing and other forms of hacking combined with scanning services that look for your Social Security number or email address in places online where it doesn’t belong.

Also, there are a lot of websites that provide online forms for filing identity theft report. Learning how to protect yourself against identity theft is very important. You can’t always prevent identity theft, but you can be proactive and minimize the damage. If you don’t know the company or sender of an email or who’s calling on the phone, that can be a red flag. That will be useful if you know the identity thief or the thief used your name in any interaction with the police. They may get a driver’s license or official ID card issued in the victim’s name but with their picture. They may use the victim’s name to get utility services like electricity, heating, or cable TV. They may use the victim’s name and Social Security number to get government benefits. When they fail to show up for their court date, a warrant for arrest may be issued in the victim’s name. They may give the victim’s personal information to police during an arrest. Stage 2: Use of the identity for financial gain (the most common motivation) or to avoid arrest or otherwise hide one’s identity from law enforcement or other authorities (such as bill collectors).