Identity Theft

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Quick Summary of Identity Theft

Obtaining a person’s personal and financial information through criminal means. A thief uses this information for illegal purposes, such as to make purchases using the victim’s name. Thieves can find information through discarded credit card or bank statements that are not destroyed, and can find the information online in customer databases.

Video Guide For Identity Theft

Full Definition of Identity Theft

Although it has existed for a long time, identity theft has become even more prevalent as more and more people rely on the Internet to make transactions or provide personal information to various institutions, such as banks, creditors, and medical offices. As Identity thieves are resourceful and can collect a person’s personal information in many ways, it is important to understand how to protect yourself and know what to do if you suspect your identity has been stolen. Even though there are laws that protect consumers, in the event personal information has been stolen, victims must take action to identify and resolve the situation.

How Thieves Steal Identities

In most cases, consumers are not aware they are the victim of identity theft until well after it has happened or they discover they are now thousands of dollars in debt or are accused of a crime they did not commit.

Thieves will often find a victim’s personal information by digging through private or commercial garbage for important documents, such as bank statements. Some thieves will even pretend to work for a company that the victim regularly conducts business with, including clinics, government agencies, or medical offices, to gain personal information. It is also common for ID thieves to impersonate a business online or over the phone, to “phish” for personal information from consumers.

Types of Identity Theft

Identity theft can be divided into the following five categories:

  • Financial – Using another person’s identity to make purchases.
  • Criminal – Using another person’s name when arrested for a crime.
  • Medical – Obtaining prescriptions or other medical care using another person’s identity.
  • Identity Cloning – Assuming another person’s identity in everyday life.
  • Child – Using a child’s identity to commit fraud, establish lines of credit, or make purchases.

Signs of ID Theft

Since ID theft tends to go unnoticed until well after the crime is committed, it is important to be able to identify when it may be occurring to you or someone you know. The following are common signs that personal information may have been stolen:

  • Unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account.
  • Calls from debt collectors regarding debts that are not yours.
  • Unfamiliar accounts or changes made to your credit report.
  • Receive bills for services you did not use.
  • You do not receive bills or other important mail items.
  • Medical providers or merchants refuse your checks.

Legal Recourse for ID Theft Victims

When a consumer suspects they are the victim of identity theft, it is crucial to act immediately to prevent the situation from becoming worse. It is the victim’s obligation to prove they are not responsible for fraudulent debts or criminal acts. That’s why it is so important to contact an experienced identity theft attorney to fight on your behalf. In fact, because it is unlawful for creditors and financial institutions to force identity theft victims to pay for debts that are not theirs, a victim may be entitled to cancellation of the debt, damages, a civil penalty, and even attorney’s fees in certain cases.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Identity Theft. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
November 29, 2023
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Identity Theft. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: November 29, 2023).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Identity Theft. Retrieved November 29, 2023
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Identity Theft are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 26th November, 2021 | 0 Views.