The crime of identity theft occurs when someone, with or without your knowledge, acquires a piece of your personal information and uses it to obtain credit cards, get wireless or phone products and services, obtain loans and mortgages, get a job, and commit other types of fraudulent or even criminal acts, in your name, leaving you responsible for the consequences. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, costing victims over $5 billion annually.
The identity thief uses key pieces of your information such as Social Security and driver's license numbers to obtain credit, merchandise and services in your name. An estimated 9.9 million consumers were victims of identity theft in 2003, and unfortunately, that number is growing.
Identity theft is a federal crime. The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 made it a federal crime when anyone "knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of the federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law."