Identity theft is someone taking personal information like your name, Social Security number, or financial account number and using it for an unlawful purpose. Everyday people, business owners, well-known celebrities, and children are prey to it. In California, all forms of identity theft are crimes (Penal Code section 530.5 et. seq.).
Identity thieves do many things in a victim's name. They open new credit accounts, take out auto loans, enjoy medical services (and make insurance claims), and even commit crimes and generate criminal records.
Identity Theft Impacts
Identity theft does not discriminate. There were 12.6 million U.S. adult victims in 2012, or one victim every three seconds. That figure represents 5.3% of U.S. adults, including over a 1.6 million Californians. Identity theft is also expensive. The total cost of identity theft in 2012 was $21 billion. The average victim spent $365 and 12 hours to resolve the problem and clear up records. The number of victims increased 8% in 2012, up from 11.6 million in 2011.
Note: The statistics cited are from the Javelin Strategy & Research "2012 Identity Fraud Report," released in February 2013.