Identity crimes occur when one party obtains or uses the compromised personal information of another for economic gain.
Though used interchangeably, it is important to understand both identity theft and identity fraud and the ways they overlap with regard to identity crimes.
Identity fraud vs. identity theft
Identity theft involves the unlawful acquisition of the name, Social Security number, date of birth, address, signature or other identifying information of one individual. Identity fraud involves the usage of this information in order to falsify documents or obtain assets without the individual’s knowledge or consent.
Common forms of identity fraud
A person commits identity fraud when he or she unlawfully uses another person’s information to:
- Open a bank account
- Make a purchase
- Withdraw or use another’s bank funds
- Obtain or use insurance coverage
- Falsify tax documents
- Apply for loans
- Gain employment
- Obtain medical or disability benefits
Identity fraud crimes vary by severity, from small loan applications and credit card charges to mortgage petitions and ID card generation.
Identity fraud crimes
Whenever another person’s stolen information becomes involved in fraudulent claims or fraudulent actions, it is a criminal violation of the victim’s right to personal data and identity.
As soon as stolen and exploited personal information results in economic gain for another, no matter how seemingly insignificant, an identity crime has occurred. Whether the crime results in small financial gain, such as the use of another person’s credit card to make a purchase, or large asset acquisition, such as the use of another person’s Social Security number to apply for government benefits, the identity criminal faces potential prosecution for a crime.