How do I avoid Identity Theft?
Federal Trade Commission
United States Dept. of Justice
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
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Identity Theft Assistance
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Identity theft is a crime involving illegal usage of another individual's identity.

Generally identity theft is sub-divided into four categories:

           Financial Identity Theft:  using another's name and SSN to obtain goods and services.
           Criminal Identity Theft:  posing as another when apprehended for a crime.
           Identity Cloning:  using another's information to assume his or her identity in daily life.
           Business/Commercial Identity Theft:  using another's business name to obtain credit.

The acquisition of personal identifiers is made possible through serious breaches of privacy.  For individuals, this is usually due to personal naivete about who they provide their information to, or carelessness in protecting their information from theft.  Guardianship of personal identifiers by individuals is the most common intervention strategy recommended by the Federal Trade Commission and most sites that address identity theft.  Personal guardianship issues include recommendations on what individuals may do to prevent their information getting into the wrong hands.  The strongest protection against identity theft is NOT to identify at all- thereby ensuring that information cannot be reused to impersonate an individual elsewhere.  As such, identity theft is often a question of too little privacy or too much identification.

What are some of the techniques for obtaining individuals information?

* Stealing mail or rummaging through rubbish (dumpster diving)
* Stealing payment or identification cards or the information on them (pickpocketing)
* Eavesdropping on public transactions to obtain personal data (shoulder surfing)
* Stealing personal information in computer databases (Trojan horses, hacking)
* Infiltration of organizations that store large amounts of personal information
* Impersonating a trusted organization in an electronic communication (phishing)
* Obtaining castings of fingers for falsifying fingerprint identification
* Browsing social network sites online for personal details that have been posted by users
* Simply researching about the victim in government registers, at the internet, Google, and so on
* Or simply calling an individual, posing as someone else, and have them give up some personal information without realizing it

We have posted links to several sites that deal with identity theft.  By clicking on the tabs in the left column you will be linked to the individual websites.