About Identity Theft

Identity theft and identity fraud refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud and or deception, typically for economic gain.

In the United States and Canada, people have reported that unauthorized persons have taken funds out of their bank or financial accounts, taken over their identities and causing huge debts and/or committing crimes using the victims' names. Victims' losses may include out-of-pocket financial costs associated with trying to restore his/her reputation in the community and attempting to restore their good credit.

Information Identity Thieves Use

The identity thief can use the following information to impersonate the victim:

  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Name
  • Social Security number

How Identity Thieves Use Information

This information enables the thief to commit frauds such as:

  • Taking over the victim's financial accounts
  • Applying for loans, credit cards, and Social Security benefits 
  • Renting apartments
  • Establishing service with utility and phone companies

How Identity Thieves Obtain Information

Identity thieves can obtain personal information from:

  • Burglary of your home
  • Careless retailers who discard credit card information
  • Dishonest bank employees
  • The internet
  • Theft from your mailbox
  • Theft from your vehicle
  • Thefts of your purse or wallet
  • Your trash


Identity theft is one of the quickest growing crimes in history. The government statistics are staggering. The largest credit bureaus report millions in losses every year according to the FBI's website. 

Since fiscal year 2008 through the middle of fiscal year 2013, the number of identity theft-related crimes investigated by the Bureau across all programs have resulted in more than 1,600 convictions, $78.6 billion in restitution, $4.6 billion in recoveries, and $6.8 billion in fines. (Federal Bureau of Investigation)


In 1998, Penal Code section 530.5 was enacted, making it illegal for a person to obtain your personal information and attempt to use it to obtain goods, services, credit or medical information.