Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, medical services, employment, homes, cars or establish utilities and cell phone accounts in your name. You may not find out about the theft until long after the damage is done and your begin getting calls from a debt collector.

Identity theft is serious and can be costly to your finances and reputation. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many months or years repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars and pay higher interest rates and insurance premiums because of negative information on their credit reports. They may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.

Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Identity Theft. The Official Guide to Identity Theft is Denise Richardson. Denise Richardson is a longtime Consumer Advocate, Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist, and Author of the book, Give Me Back My Credit, and co-host of a Blog Talk Radio Network show Spotlight, a program designed to spotlight consumer related financial issues. Richardson is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and Board member of the non-profit 501(3) (c) organization Americans Consumer Credit Education Support Services (ACCESS). To find out more information about identity theft, get tips on social networking sites and learn of the latest scams, visit her blog at

Additional Resources on Identity Theft can be found at:

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Denise Richardson, The Official Guide to Identity Theft