Programs that attempt to reduce the incidence of identity theft by making people aware of the means by which thieves obtain the personal information they use to assume another's identity and steps that can be taken to protect that information. Suggestions include regularly reviewing credit reports for fraudulent accounts; destroying important papers including pre-approved credit applications and credit card receipts using a crosscut shredder; taking care at ATM machines and in other public venues that there are no observers stealing PIN numbers or eavesdroppers recording information provided orally; picking up new cheques rather than having them mailed home; omitting telephone numbers from cheques; mailing bill payments from a post box rather than a home mailbox; regularly monitoring bank statements; and other similar precautions. Identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently obtains private information about an individual, e.g., his or her Social Insurance Number, uses it to apply for credit in that person's name, runs up large bills and then disappears without paying the bills leaving the victim with ruined credit. Identity thieves may also purchase expensive medical services in the victim's name or give the victim's name and personal information to a law enforcement officer during an investigation or upon arrest leaving the individual vulnerable to large medical bills or subject to arrest.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.