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Before the 1950s and credit cards, identity theft was defined as assuming another person's name, using a stolen passport, stolen Social Security card, or other form of identification that was not your own. If you look at the long history of identity theft, you will see its upturn with the widespread use of the telephone, when 'prize scamming' to get small pieces of personal information became a more common crime. Go forward in identity theft history and you will find garbage thieves, stealing thrown-away receipts, billing statements, and/or bank statements from unknowing victims to purchase goods or falsify records. These methods are still used today, but formed the beginnings of what has now turned into one of the the fastest growing crimes in the world.
If you are a person who pays bills, has bank accounts, uses credit cards, and/or uses the Internet, you need to ask yourself, 'What is identity theft and how do I avoid it?" Any time you go online to pay bills, access bank and credit card information, purchase goods, or transmit personal information, you risk having your identity compromised by an identity thief. Being one step ahead by learning about identity theft and protecting yourself will make having your identity stolen far less likely in the future.