Identity theft can happen in numerous ways, but it most often happens online nowadays. New Internet users are often warned that they need to be wary of having their identity compromised. Someone else could steal their information and pretend to be them – which may extend to more than just an online presence.
What is the reason for identity theft in the first place? What does a thief stand to gain? Below are three common motivations that drive identity thieves.
They want to open new accounts
First off, someone may simply use another’s information to open new accounts. If they get someone’s Social Security number and address, for instance, they would likely be able to open a bank account or a credit card account. As with most online crimes, the reason behind identity theft is usually financial. Someone steals an identity so that they can have access to credit and/or funds intended for the victim.
They want to use your existing accounts
Identity theft may simply be a way for a thief to get access to accounts that already exist. They may not open up a new credit card in a victim’s name, but they may be able to log into an existing account and make purchases using their card. This is a very common form of fraud that can result in thousands of dollars of loss before someone closes an affected account. If you do not check your statements regularly, this type of fraud can even fly under the radar until it’s time to pay a monthly bill.
They want to sell your information
Finally, many people who steal someone’s personal information online are simply intending to sell that information to someone else. They’re not going to use it for anything at all, personally. This is why data breaches where millions of people have their information stolen occur. The goal of that mass theft is simply to sell all of that information to someone who can benefit from it.
What should you do?
Identity theft is illegal, as are the financial crimes that go along with it. If you find yourself in this position, be sure you know exactly what legal steps to take to protect your interests. Seeking legal guidance as proactively as possible is important.