Identity fraud is a crime where one person uses another person's personal data, without authorization, to deceive or defraud someone else. For example, it is identity fraud to use someone's personal information to open a credit card account without permission, and then charge merchandise to that account. Identity fraud does not occur when a credit card is simply stolen; that may be consumer fraud, but is not identity fraud. Identity fraud is a synonym of unlawful identity change. It indicates unlawful activities that use the identity of another person or of a non-existing person fraudulently.
Identity fraud can occur without identity theft, as in the case where the fraudster has been given someone's identity information for other reasons but uses it to commit fraud, or when the person whose identity is being used is colluding with the person committing the fraud. One case of identity fraud is when the PlayStation Network was hacked into, and the man responsible for this took the information from everyone who had their credit card information installed on the Network. It took three months to fix the problem, when it occurred. Moreover, identity fraud does not necessarily involve colluding or theft of another's personal information; it can also involve the use of fake names, ID cards, falsified or forged documents, and lying about his or her own age to simply "hide" his or her true identity. Reasons for this type of identity fraud may include wanting to purchase tobacco or alcohol as a minor as well as to continue playing on a certain sports team or organization when that person is really too old to compete.
Identity fraud is the act of using a stolen identity to obtain goods or services by deception. This usually involves the use of stolen, forged or counterfeit documents such as a passport or driving licence. The term ‘goods or services’ typically includes bank accounts, mortgages, credit cards, rail products, an application for a job or simply dishonest claims for state benefits.
Synthetic identities are fake identities that combine fake information with actual ID data. For example, combining a real social security number along with a fake address and other synthetic data points. The fraudster can then use the fake identity to acquire driver’s licenses, passports and other real ID as well as credit cards and other accounts. It's estimated that synthetic ID fraud accounts for 80% of all credit card fraud losses, and will soar 44% between 2014 and 2018, rising from $5 billion in annual losses to a projected $8 billion.
It is estimated that between 140,000 and 400,000 children become victims of identity theft every year. A child's identity is uniquely desirable to identity thieves. Steve Toporoff, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, says that while there is a feeling among industry insiders that child identity theft is a major problem, it is very difficult to quantify because, in most instances, people have no clue that they are victims until years after the fact.
False identities are used, for instance, by organized crime to access goods and services or to participate in money laundering. Importantly a large proportion of identity fraud is linked to people trafficking, money laundering, drug running and terrorism. Information (from Interpol, the National Fraud Authority (NFA) and UK Fraud Prevention Services (CIFAS) highlights the financial impact of identity fraud but takes no account of the distress caused to the tens of thousands of people and companies that fall prey to this form of largely organised crime.
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