Why People Commit Identity Theft
There are four main categories of identity theft which are financial, criminal, cloning and commercial
Financial Identity Theft
Just using your stolen credit card details to buy things is the example we all know about and guard against.
Your telephone bills may soar if a thief is able to use your telephone calling card or otherwise get access your
The identity theft criminal may get even bolder, and take out debts in your name, obtain a new credit card, sign
up for a telephone or electricity account, lease a car, or take out an apartment lease.
You could even find someone else has taken out a mortgage on your own home, and vanished with the money. It is
not unknown (but rarer) for a person to find their home or other property has been put on the market, and even sold
by an identity thief, though this is a more difficult deception for a thief to pull off.
Criminal Identity Theft
Some criminals will prepare for the risk of being caught by the authorities by having someone else's identity
ready. The most common example is in traffic violations. They may even carry a false driver's licence in your name,
bearing their photograph, just in case they get caught. The first you know is when you get the citation for not
responding to the charge.
Access to drinking establishments when under the minimum legal age is another common example. Another example is
using your stolen licence plate to steal fuel in "drive offs" from service stations. It is your number plate that
appears on the security cameras. Filing a fraudulent tax return under another person's name is also a common form
of identity theft, perhaps to preserve an income tested state benefit the thief receives. The possibilities of how
criminals could use your identity to cover up their crimes can get more serious still.
Cloning Identity Theft
Occasionally criminals will take on someone else's identity to get a passport or driver's licence, or to access
data, when they have their normal channels blocked. They may even steal an identity to start a totally new life,
perhaps if they are wanted persons. Illegal immigrants, criminals, bankrupts and even abuse victims may use this
approach to start a new life, as you. Their purpose may not be to hide behind your identity to commit a crime so
much as to just conceal their true identity behind the respectable faade of your identity. You may not incur
financial or other losses, but have the unnerving experience of having your reputation merged with that of a
"clone". You may notice nothing until, for example, your good credit record is unaccountably damaged.
Commercial Identity Theft
Businesses can also find themselves embroiled in identity theft problems. A tenant may sell off the landlord's
furniture, purporting to be the owner. A person may gain access to premises or data by falsely using an authorized
person's identity. At the other extreme, a company may have to deal with purchasers or creditors waving contracts
signed by an identity thief who falsely claimed to have represented the company when entering into a large
transaction. At this stage the identity thief has usually long vanished with the proceeds of the crime.
With so many ways for unscrupulous people to profitably steal your identity, you need to take precautions.