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What is identity theft?

Question
What is identity theft?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Consumer Measures Committee

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What is identity theft?
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Reviewed: 
December 31, 2016
Answer

Identity theft happens when someone takes and uses your personal information without your permission.

Types of personal information they take may include your:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • social insurance number
  • bank accounts
  • credit card numbers

Identity thieves may use your personal information to do things like:

  • apply for credit cards, bank loans, and other kinds of credit
  • take money from your bank accounts and shop with your credit cards
  • apply for social assistance, rent an apartment, or buy furniture or other goods with a store loan

 In the end, you may have to pay for what they did when pretending to be you.

This type of identity theft is called identity fraud.

Sometimes identify thieves also take the personal information of people who have died and pretend to be them.

A stolen identity can make things very difficult for you. You may have trouble getting approval for things like a bank loan, credit card, or mortgage, or even being able to rent an apartment. It can be very hard to improve your credit rating after a case of identity theft.

You may also have to spend a lot of time:

  • fixing mistakes on your credit report
  • dealing with payments for things you did not buy
  • closing accounts opened in your name

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