With the number of data breaches and credit card thefts skyrocketing in the past year, protection from identity theft has to be a top priority amongst individuals and enterprises alike. Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime wherein an imposter deliberately uses someone else’s personally identifiable information such as names, social security number and credit card numbers without the individual’s permission. Apart from using the credentials for monetary benefits and services, identity theft can also be committed with the malicious intent of defamation.

Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization that provides victim assistance, classifies identity theft into the following five broad categories:

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·         Criminal identity theft occurs when an imposter impersonates another individual with matters pertaining to legal issues such as at the time of arrest by producing fake ID or using stolen credentials.

·         Financial identity theft is the most common occurring wherein someone tries to gain economic benefits in someone else’s name like obtaining loans and goods and services. Coined in 2006,

·         Medical theft is used to illegally access somebody else’s medical care or insurance benefits. In addition, the impersonator can entangle an individual’s medical records, which can result in incorrect healthcare in the future.

·         Child identity theft, where a child’s Social Security Number to reap government benefits, open bank accounts and other services.

·         In the case of identity cloning, the thief pretends to be someone else in order to cover up their identity, most commonly done illegal immigrants or people who want to be anonymous.

There are multiples ways to mitigate identity theft and the damages it causes. There are sanctioned procedures like notifying Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other relevant government-recognized agencies. Additionally, informing card provider and banks regarding any unusual activities can help avert dangers in advance. 

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