Identity Fraud Versus Identity Theft

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What is the difference between identity theft and identity fraud?

Identity Fraud Versus Identity Theft

Although information on identity theft is widely available, many consumers remain uncertain of the differences between identity fraud and identity theft.

Quite simply, identity fraud consists primarily of someone your personal information without your knowledge or consent. Identity fraud can be financial, such as unauthorized use of your credit card or conducting unauthorized transactions from your existing accounts such as bank transfers and ATM withdrawals. Identity fraud can also take a criminal shape, when someone perpetrates a crime while assuming your identity.

The definition of identity theft is when someone steals your personal identifying information, such as your name, date of birth, credit card numbers or Social Security number. While identity theft is a crime, you don't feel the impact until the identity thief has actually done something with your stolen personal information, i.e. commits identity fraud. The challenge we face as consumers is that an identity thief can wait years before acting, catching you and the authorities off-guard.

Regardless of the distinction that can be made between identity fraud and identity theft, the recommendations for consumers to prevent and protect against them is the same and include:

  • Shred documents that include personal information such as bank account and Social Security numbers.
  • Install a locked mailbox.
  • Review your bank and credit accounts regularly for any suspicious activity or unauthorized withdrawals.
  • Opt out of prescreened credit offers. Call 888-5-OPOUT.
  • Continuously monitor you're your credit report from each of the three consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion). You are entitled to receive one free report each year from each company. Review each one and report any errors you find.
  • Continuously monitor other sources of your personal information such as public records and the Internet.

Protection of your personal information is key to prevention.



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