The Link to Identity Theft
Pretexting can lead to identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone hijacks your personal identifying information to open new charge accounts, order merchandise, or borrow money. Consumers targeted by identity thieves often don’t know they’ve been victimized until the hijackers fail to pay the bills or repay the loans, and collection agencies begin dunning the consumers for payment of accounts they didn’t even know they had.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the most common forms of identity theft are:
- Credit Card Fraud — a credit card account is opened in a consumer’s name or an existing credit card account is “taken over”
- Communications Services Fraud — the identity thief opens telephone, cellular, or other utility service in the consumer’s name;
- Bank Fraud — a checking or savings account is opened in the consumer’s name, and/or fraudulent checks are written
- Fraudulent Loans — the identity thief gets a loan, such as a car loan, in the consumer’s name.
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act makes it a federal crime when someone: “knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law.”
Under the Identity Theft Act, a name or SSN is considered a “means of identification.” So is a credit card number, cellular telephone electronic serial number or any other piece of information that may be used alone or in conjunction with other information to identify a specific individual.