One of the biggest crimes of the present century is identity theft. The numbers of victims who have gone on record now already amount to millions. Different data or documents related to debit cards, credit cards, PIN, social security number, driving licences, bank information etc. is assimilated in a scrupulous manner leading to identity theft. Identity theft is also termed as impersonation. Theft related to identity can also take place via the information that can be read on calling cards on telephones, birth certificates, passports, etc. Victims are impersonated by the criminals with the utilization of this information.
The criminals use up money from banks as well credit card accounts. Basically there are two types of identity thefts. A lot of dedicated study and research has been conducted on patterns used by the criminals while operating in an identity theft. Information related to credit cards is acquired by the thieves and via the credit card, purchases are made. Account numbers are accessed, credit card information is accessed via expired cards etc. The SSN or other kinds of personal information is used while filling up forms while doing the fraud especially at the time of opening new bank accounts. Till you receive a statement related to 'payments due' you don't even realize that an account has been opened up in your name.
Sometimes it takes very long to realize that a fraud has taken place. Account statements are received yearly, six monthly, quarterly or monthly and at such times it is realized that a fraud has taken place. The law does play a particular role in cases related to fraud. In some of the countries the victim does not have to necessarily pay any loss that has taken place. In the case of credit cards this holds true and not for those who report for a theft of identity on use of a debit card.
Protection up to a lesser amount is offered on users of debit card holders. In the case of a debit card holder the account is closed and for the total amount of loss the card holder is held responsible. An identity theft, does affect the credit rating as well as you are left with a credit report that is bad. For regaining a better status of financial health it can even take months and years. Availing loans or credit later on becomes a bit difficult.
To protect your personal information you need to be very careful. Make sure your credit cards, debit cards, SSN, PIN, driver's license, passport, birth certificate, passbook, bank statements etc. are always kept safely. Keep the documents safely with you and in the locker when you are not there. Remember that thieves indulge in dumpster diving in which case the trash bins are searched for personal information. Unlocked email boxes are used for sealing sensitive data. Insurance statements, reports on investments, offers related to pre-approved credit cards, etc. is different kinds of information hacked from the computer. At the phone and ATM booths someone can try to access your PIN or personal information.