Exposed personal information leads to identity theft

Personal information is collected by companies, organisations and government agencies. Unfortunately, data sometimes leak or are breached by criminals. Personal information can be used against an individual. Identity theft means that someone is posing as you using your private information.

Criminals usually obtain this data either through new data breaches or by combining information from leaked information over the years. Some dark web sites archive pieces of information, and this cumulative information can be weaponised against individuals.

The most common type of identity theft is financial identity theft, where someone wants to gain economical benefits (such as getting credits, loans, goods and services) by claiming to be someone else. For example, a scammer might be able to file a victim’s tax refund and try to change the bank account information. Another example is that a scammer might be able to reuse credentials or other login information to access a victim’s online accounts. In addition, stolen identity information can be used to cash out money using online credit card processing and medical insurance.

Furthermore, identity theft may be used to fund other crimes, such as illegal immigration and terrorism. Identity concealment means that the identity thief pretends to be someone else. Examples are illegal immigrants hiding their illegal status and people hiding from creditors. In some cases, criminals have fraudulently identified themselves to the police as other individuals at the point of arrest, having previously obtained state-issued identity documents using stolen credentials. Concealment may continue indefinitely without being detected, particularly if the identity thief is able to obtain false credentials to pass various authentication tests in everyday life.

With identity information, it is possible to create a fake social media account for victims. Posers mostly create believable stories involving friends of the real person they are imitating.

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