Consider the following...
Personal information is everywhere and is easily accessible to identity thieves.
Identity theft continues to be a rampant and troubling crime in America.
Each year, an estimated 10 million people are victimized.
Identity theft can affect your ability to conduct normal daily affairs.
The identity theft landscape is the perfect storm. A combination of powerful forces including sophisticated technologies, aggressive thieves, easy access to data, and few obstacles, helps make identity theft a rampant and troubling crime in America.
Identity theft or identity fraud is a criminal event that occurs when one person takes personal information belonging to somebody else and uses it without authority for abuse or gain.
There are many ways to obtain information and falsify or create counterfeit documents. Sensitive personal information is readily accessible and can easily be abused by unscrupulous people. Social security numbers, birth certificates, driver's licenses, credit card information, and financial account numbers can be obtained via a lost wallet, "dumpster diving", the mail, your employer, your hospital, or your Internet account, to name a few. The ability to obtain sensitive information about someone is far too easy, and identity thieves pursue a variety of fraudulent schemes that impact a victim's financial, employment, medical, tax, and even criminal record and status.
The number of identity fraud cases continues to be significant. Annual surveys by Javelin Strategy & Research indicate that there are nearly 10 million victims of identity theft each year. Costs to individuals and business are estimated at nearly $50 billion. Separately, each year (since roughly 2001), the FTC reports that identity theft is the number one consumer complaint filed with the FTC. Statistics continue to be gathered within state and federal governments, and efforts to combat and investigate fraud continue across many boundaries, including the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the US Postal Service, the Secret Service, the Social Security Administration, and local authorities and state agencies.
In October 1998, the US Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (Identity Theft Act) to address identity fraud and many new laws exist. However, even with the passage of new laws, we can assume that identity fraud will continue as long as criminals exist and as personal information remains their target of choice.
We encourage you to learn more about identity theft.