Crime is always going to exist. Some criminals suffer the consequences of their actions, but some don’t. Despite the laws that the authorities try to enforce, criminals find ways to break them without being caught red handed.

Identity theft is on the rise. Criminals waiting to steal your personal information can easily do so via the Internet as more and more users make financial transactions online and manage their bank accounts on the Internet. Identity theft and identify fraud may seem like the same concept, but there is a difference.

Identity theft occurs when thieves access your personal information, such as your driver’s license, social security number, address, and name to impersonate you. When thieves get access to all of your personal information, stealing your identity is easy.

Once a criminal has your personal information, they can open new accounts under your name. This is called true accounts identity theft. Criminals can also access money in your existing accounts—this is called account takeover.

Identity theft is very serious. Criminals have open access to your money and can destroy your credit rating and financial future. Support groups and the authorities can help individuals who are the unsuspecting victims of this crime.

When a criminal creates fake personal information it’s called identity fraud. When referring to identity fraud, the criminal does not steal personal information or assume a real person’s identity. They use the personal information of a fictitious person. This fake person serves as a mask to commit crimes.

The criminal can make various financial transactions at different banking and credit institutions using this fictional identity. Anyone can be affected especially if they unknowingly made a financial deal with the criminal.

Identity theft and identity fraud are serious crimes. The best way to ensure that you don’t become a victim of these crimes is prevention. Keep your personal information safe and conduct background checks if you suspect that the individual may not be using his or her real identity. Most of all, keep your guard up and be aware at all times.


9 Comments
  1. Thank you for this informative post. I never really gave much thought to the difference in these crimes. I would imagine identity theft, would post a greater risk, because they have your personal information. Some people may be paranoid, always cutting up receipts and doing other things, but they are the ones that will grateful in the end.

    • It’s easier to be safe than sorry. Paper shredders are useful especially if you receive many documents that you don’t need many hard copies of. With a scanner, you’d be able to lessen physical copies that criminals may get hold of. I think businesses would have higher risks of dealing with the criminal activities David posted but even an individual can be susceptible to these.

  2. There was recently a VICE documentary about people who do this sort of thing. It’s really quite interesting how they get the documents. One guy said they often get it from the company itself like your gas bill company of something. They often have copies and when they pay someone to dispose of them, that person isn’t paid enough and they pass them on.

    • Awesome! I got to watch that documentary, I’ve always wondered what kind of people are behind this sort of thing. I mean, doing this for a living (if you want to call it that) must require a lot of an attitude and nerve. I personally could never do such a thing… I’m too much of a good person and wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing I’m robbing the money from people who has worked so hard for it…

  3. Sometimes your credit card company can be helpful in this matter as well. Just a few months ago, someone attempted to use one of my credit cards to go on a shopping spree. This individual tried to purchase plane tickets after having attempted a purchase at a department store.

    Both of the transactions were declined and I received an email from the credit card company informing me they had detected fraud on my account and I was told to call and confirm recent transactions. I was so glad they caught this on my behalf! To this day I have no idea how someone got hold of my account details.

  4. Wow, I had no idea that there was a difference between the two! Thanks for this great article, I really learnt something today.

    I always used to think identity theft is something which happens to people, while identity fraud is the person doing it…guess I was wrong.

  5. You wrote, “Despite the laws that the authorities try to enforce, criminals find ways to break them without being caught red handed.” This is true. However, not only consumers should protect themselves as much as possible, the financial institutions should help protect our identities from being used. Perhaps, one solution would be to require a thumb print on all cards.
    Once, I heard of an implanted chip on credit cards during the Target credit card crisis. Reportedly, it was only available in the European Union. I wonder why that system hasn’t been implemented in the US

  6. Thanks for clearing out the double-take. Sometimes I resent learning these things because I have the tendency to panic about the digital divide. Before the demise of identity fraud and identity theft, I never thought it normal for people to end a phone call with, “Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.” I felt that not all modern communication needed to be melodramatic. Perhaps the most important point of it all, though, is to not have to change the way we feel about our existence in this digitally connected world.

  7. A very good article, to be honest I had no idea those two were two different crimes, both of them quite scary and serious, btw. I wonder… what if those thieves use the fake details of someone who actually exists? I think I read about something like that happening to someone, that person had a lot troubles!! I think there was a special report on that case on TV some years ago, all I could think was how terrifying it must be when something like that happens to you.

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