Learn What Identity Theft Criminals Do With the Personal Information They Have Stolen
by Andy Idol

By now, almost all Americans understand how common the crime of identity theft has become and should also realize that they are prone to becoming a victim of this horrendous crime. While most have probably heard of the many problems that can result from identity theft, many may not truly understand what a criminal does with personal information once they have access to it. Protecting yourself means understanding what a criminal may do once they have your personal information so you can monitor suspicious activity. Once your personal information has been compromised, thieves can commit many crimes including bank or credit card fraud, utilities fraud, governmental documentation fraud, and even criminal fraud. This article will discuss the different ways a thief may use your personal identity information and what methods you can use to protect yourself.

The most popular and most common way of using someones personal information is bank or credit card fraud and this type of fraud can be very detrimental to the victim. A thief may get a new credit card using your name and social security number, many times using an alternate address so you never see any bills. Once the criminal has this credit card they can run up charges until the card is maxed out and never making a payment will put the negative information on your credit history file. The thief can do a similar thing by opening up a bank account in your name. They will write bad checks and secure loans with no intention of paying anything back so this will also end up as a negative mark on your credit history file. Both of these methods may be difficult to catch in the beginning because if the thief is using an alternate address, you will stop receive billing statements from current accounts and never receive a statement on a new account. There are even some more technologically advanced criminals that can, after gaining access to your pin number, clone your ATM card and drain your bank account dry.

Another common activity of identity theft criminals is to commit utilities fraud with your personal information. A thief may open up new phone, electric, gas, or other utility service account using your information. This scheme can extend into accounts for cell phones, cable TV, sewer and water, and some criminals have been known to even rent apartments, all in your name, and like bank fraud, the smart criminals will have all bills and statements sent to a different address so you will not be aware of any suspicious activity until after the damage is already done. This crime be sometimes have less negative impact on the victim because if the criminal is obtaining monthly services using your name, they may very well wish to keep these services active and will actually pay the bills. But if they dont pay or stop paying later on, then it again goes against your credit history and can affect your ability to obtain and maintain these necessary services.

A more serious type of identity theft activity is government documentation fraud where a criminal can use your personal information for many different purposes. They may get a drivers license or state ID with your information and their picture. One common practice of identity theft is the usage of someone elses Social Security number for employment purposes. While this practice does happen with people who are on the run from the law or wish to stay hidden for some other reason, it is more likely that an illegal immigrant without a Social Security number of their own will commit this crime. The Social Security administration is not well equipped to detect this type of problem and it may go on for years unless the IRS notices some abnormality at tax time. Another problem that often arises is when the person using your Social Security number files for unemployment. There was a case several years ago at a small company where an employee, unknown to the employer, was an illegal immigrant and was using somebody elses Social Security number. This employee was put on a two week temporary layoff and filed for unemployment with the false Social Security number that they had been using for years. By a matter of chance, the legal owner of the Social Security number filed for unemployment benefits the very same week which created a red flag for the Social Security administration department.

Possibly the most frightening type of fraud is where a person who has access to your person identity information gets arrested for some reason and supplies the authorities with your information. If they do immediate jail time, the worst that will happen is that you will develop a criminal history but if they are required to return for a court trial at a later date, you may encounter some real problems. The fact that they are already a criminal who has stolen your identity means that they are unlikely to bother showing up for their court appointment and a warrant will be issued in your name. Something as simple as a traffic violation can land you in jail, wondering just what is going on.