Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information--like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number--without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft is serious. People whose identities have been stolen can spend hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. Consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing, or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. They may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit. The potential for damage, loss, and stress is considerable.
While nothing can guarantee that you won't become a victim of identity theft, you can take specific steps to minimize your risk, and minimize the damage if a problem develops. It's about following the "3 D's" of identity theft protection:
For more information:
Identity Theft Resource Center
U.S. Department of Justice - Identity Theft and Identity Fraud