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|What is Identity Theft?||Identity Theft Prevention|
|Identity Theft Statistics||Identity Theft Victim Procedures|
|National Identity Theft Resources||State Identity Theft Resources|
Identity theft occurs when someone obtains your personal information (Social Security Number, credit card numbers, bank account information, drivers license, birth date, etc.) and fraudulently uses your credit accounts, open new accounts in your name, take out a loan, rent an apartment, access bank accounts, or commit other crimes at your expense. Often, you may not know you are a victim of this crime until months later, when you are unexpectedly turned down for a loan or get a call from a collection agency about an account you never opened. You might even get a call from the police about a crime you didn't commit.
Because credit card companies must limit consumer responsibility to $50 in most cases of fraud, and because many new cards include "zero responsibility" protection, some people think there is no reason to worry about credit fraud. But in its most advanced form -- identity theft -- credit fraud can cause wide-ranging long-term problems. Identity thieves can use your personal information to take over your savings or checking accounts or open new ones. And these damages do not have limits. They may even use your good credit to get a job, take out a car loan, or rent an apartment.