What is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft is the illegal use of someone else’s personal identifiable information (PII) with the intent to commit fraud or gain financial benefits in their name. If your identity or the identity of your child Identity as been stolen, identity thieves may open new credit accounts, file fake tax returns, buy or rent property, or take out loans that wreak havoc on your financial health and credit score.


What is PII?


Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is any personal information about a person that is maintained by an agency. PII can include your name, place of birth, SSN, mother’s maiden name, biometric records, educational history, employment history, and more.

It’s important to understand that identity theft can happen to anyone at any time. What we call your identity is the total collection of your PII. This is the information thieves use when you experience a stolen identity. When they gain access to this information, they have the ability to, in essence, become you. If any of this information is stolen, we consider this a personal breach of your identity.


What could an identity thief do with your PII?


One of the first questions a victim of identity theft asks themselves is, “Why would someone want my identity?” For an identity thief, opening credit cards in your name, making fraudulent purchases, or using your personal information when being questioned by the police are just a part of a long list of what they are able to do with your stolen identity. They might:


  • Open new credit cards in your name

  • Make fraudulent purchases

  • Log in to personal accounts (email, social media, bank, etc…)

  • Open new phone and utility accounts in your name

  • Clone your ATM or debit card

  • Change your billing address

  • Obtain a new driver’s license or official ID

  • Use your identity when questioned by police

It’s important to understand that identity theft can happen to anyone at any time. Your identity is built on multiple layers that include more than just your social security number. What we call your identity is the total collection of your personally identifiable information (PII). When they gain access to this information, they have the ability to, in essence, become you. If any of this information is stolen, we consider this a personal breach of your identity.


How quickly does an identity thief start to use your personal information?


One study* by the FTC showed that criminals acted on stolen information within 9 minutes of getting the data. It is important to understand how identity theft can happen and act quickly when it does.