Introduction to Identity Theft


Identity theft is the unauthorized use of your personal identifying information by anyone who intends to impersonate you or to conduct any activities in your name. The thief may impersonate you online, by mail, over the telephone, or in person.

Most identity theft is very low tech. Almost all of it occurs when someone steals, or copies the information from your credit, ATM or debit cards, checkbook, wallet or purse, or your mail. Only about 10 percent happens online, but this percentage is increasing.

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States, but there is much you can do to keep it from happening to you.


The identities of millions of Americans are stolen annually. Identity theft accounts for more than 40 percent of all complaints filed with the FTC. It’s cybercrime, and it’s growing faster than the police or courts can deal with it.

Personal identifying information

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Name
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Official state or government issued driver’s license or identification number
  • Alien registration number
  • Employer or taxpayer identification number
  • Unique biometric data such as a fingerprint, voice print, retina, or iris image
  • Unique electronic identification number, address or routing code
  • Telecommunication identifying information or access device

Go to Identity Theft main page.

Go to Safe Computing at NC State.