Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes of the new millennium. It occurs when, for fraudulent purposes, someone uses bits and pieces of information about an individual—usually a Social Security number—to represent him- or herself as that person. There are numerous varieties of identity theft. Examples of application fraud, also called “true name fraud,” include obtaining credit cards and loans in someone else's name and then not paying the bills, opening utility accounts, renting an apartment, getting a cellular phone, and purchasing a car or home. Another variety, account takeover, occurs when the thief obtains the account number of the victim's existing credit card or bank account by wallet theft, or perhaps by fishing transaction slips out of the trash. The perpetrator usually makes many purchases in a short period of time, often by mail order or over the Internet. Account takeover is often detected and halted early ...