Written by Jennifer van der Kleut for NortonLifeLock
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information and pretends to be you in order to commit fraud or to gain other financial benefits.
Your personal identifying information could include your full name, home address, email address, online login and passwords, Social Security number, driver’s license number, passport number, or bank number. Once thieves access this information, they may use it to commit identity theft or sell it on the dark web.
What is identity theft?
Whether an identity thief overhears you reading out your credit card number on the phone, buys your information on the dark web after it has been exposed in a data breach, or steals your information some other way, there are a lot of ways to access your personal details. Using that information is the next phase in the identity-theft process.
Here are some examples of what identity thieves might do with your sensitive personal information.
- Open new credit cards or other lines of credit using your identifying information.
- Make unauthorized purchases using your existing credit and debit cards.
- File a tax return using your Social Security number in order to claim your refund.
- Use your health insurance to get medical care.
- Pass an employment background check or rent an apartment, using your identity and financial standing.