Identity theft involves the collection of victim’s personal information and using it in an unauthorized way for the perpetrator’s personal gain. Any time a criminal collects your personal information and uses it for his personal gain is considered identity theft. Even information that may seem harmless, like date of birth, can be used to commit identity theft. The criminals may collect your address, previous addresses, email address, pin numbers, insurance numbers, passwords, mother’s maiden name, and bank account or other financial details.

Criminals can do many things with someone’s personal information. Most commonly, they commit financial fraud, such as bank fraud, credit card fraud, benefit fraud, tax rebate fraud, and telecommunications fraud. Moreover, the thieves can use your information to commit crimes, such as drug trafficking, smuggling, money laundering, entering or exiting a country illegally, committing cybercrimes, and other.

Identity theft can lead to serious consequences for the victim. If a criminal used the stolen identity to commit a crime, the police might become suspicious of the person and they can find themselves involved in a criminal investigation. In case of financial fraud, the victim might end up having debts that are not actually their own. Absolving yourself from debts is difficult, but having the false information removed from your credit record might be even more complicated.

Identity theft is quickly evolving due to the development of internet and social media. Make sure to protect yourself while online by checking the emails for suspicious data and completely destroying all documents containing your personal information.