Identity theft is a crime in which your personal information such as your name, social security number, date of birth, and address is stolen and may be used by someone to assume your identity, often for the purpose of financial gain. It is also referred to as “identity fraud” when the stolen identity is used to impersonate the victim. Methods a criminal may use to steal your data over the Internet include hacking or using spam and phishing. Social media sites and file sharing can be prime targets for identity thieves, since users often make the assumption of a trusted environment, sharing personal information without understanding the consequences.
Identity theft is not just a risk for those who use the Internet. Criminals can obtain information by sorting through garbage, eavesdropping, stealing wallets, picking up receipts at restaurants, and other means. Once enough information is gathered, criminals may open new credit card accounts, apply for loans, empty your bank accounts, make charges on your credit card, or develop fake forms of identification. Identity thieves will not always use the information themselves. They may sell it to underground markets for financial gain