The victims of identity theft and identity crime, respectively, are the individuals and businesses whose identities have been stolen and the individuals and businesses who are defrauded using such stolen identities. The “theft” and the “crime” are two different offenses, each with its own structure of penalties and fines. Also to be distinguished are the effects of these crimes on persons versus businesses. Both suffer the financial losses, but for persons there also is an emotional component that sometimes is so intense that even the term “identity rape” is inadequately descriptive.


People may be made aware that they are victims of identity theft in a number of ways, including when they:

  • Receive a telephone call from the diligent fraud department of a bank, credit union, or other financial institution, inquiring about a recent credit application
  • Are contacted by a collections department or agency asking why their account is delinquent
  • Discover unauthorized long-distance calls on their telephone or cell phone bill
  • Discover fraudulent checks deducted on their checking account statements
  • Are notified by a bank or credit union of an overdrawn account or dishonored checks
  • Are contacted by a merchant or other business demanding payment for nonsufficient funds (NSF) charges and returned checks
  • Discover unauthorized withdrawals on their checking, savings, or investment account statements
  • Are unexpectedly denied credit, ...

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