Identity theft most often occurs when someone uses another person’s personal identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The term identity theft was first coined in 1964, according to Wikipedia.
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance.
An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.
ID theft is often discovered when mysterious mail arrives from your bank, online shop or credit reporting agency. Sometimes criminals have ordered new credit cards in your name, other times there may be loan papers or confirmation of bookings.
Good control of your mailbox and correct address is therefore important measures against ID theft.
For more information check out identitytheft.gov and identitetstyveri.no.