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- Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information for fraudulent purposes
- An identity thief may steal tax refunds or get medical services in your name
- Identity thieves may open new credit card or bank accounts in your name
Identity theft is committed when someone steals your personal information — such as your name, Social Security number, and date of birth — typically to hijack your credit and use it to open up new credit accounts, take out loans in your name, or access your bank or retirement accounts. An identity thief can even use your personal information to steal your tax refunds, seek medical services, or commit crimes in your name.
Once an identity thief has access to your personal information, he or she can also:
- Open new credit card accounts with your name, Social Security number and date of birth. When the thief charges to the credit cards and leaves the bills unpaid, the delinquency will be reported to your credit report and could impact your credit score;
- Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on the account;
- Create counterfeit checks or debit cards and use them to drain your existing bank accounts;
- File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts;
- Set up a phone, wireless, or other utility service in your name.