August 26, 2015

What Is Identity Theft By Definition, Under Both The IRS & FTC?

Until the early 1960’s, the term, “identity theft” was not known to most Americans.  Before this, a stolen identity generally referred to an individual assuming the role of another person to hide his or her own true identity.  In the 21st century however, identity theft can be many things including, “identity cloning and concealment”, “medical identity theft”, “child identity theft”, and “synthetic identity theft”.  This leads many of us to wonder, “What is identity theft?”

What Is Identity Theft In Different Forms?

Financial Identity Theft or FTC Identity Theft

Identity theft for the purpose of stealing credit, services, merchandise, or benefits of some kind is the most common type of identity theft reported.  The Federal Trade Commission conducts regular identity theft reviews for victims of financial theft,  The terms, “Financial Identity Theft”, or “FTC Identity Theft” differentiate theft tracked through the Federal Trade Commission, as opposed to, “IRS Identity Theft” that involves theft through the filing of an income tax return.  Both of these agencies work diligently, exploring how to prevent identity theft and teaching the public how to report identity theft. 

Identity Cloning And Concealment

Individuals may impersonate others for several reasons not linked to financial gain or credit fraud at all.  This includes persons who want to conceal their own true identity for fear of prosecution or retribution.  Individuals who are not in the country legally, but want to work or obtain services may clone another’s identity and conceal his or her own.  People hiding from creditors or collectors may also assume another identity.  Some people take on the identity of a deceased person in an attempt to collect that person’s benefits or use their prior credentials in some way as well.

Medical Identity Theft—Identity Theft Definition

When one individual uses the identity of another to gain medical services, medical identity theft occurs.  This not only increases the financial burden on the medical system in place, but may harm the actual medical patient as well.  Because healthcare professionals record all medical services and procedures, inaccurate records and files could affect future patient treatment.

Child Identity Theft

In recent years, the theft of a minor’s Social Security Number has grown rapidly n America.  In fact, identity theft statistics indicate that two percent of all children in the country have already had Social Security Numbers stolen.  Government agencies report identity theft of children as one of the most common theft cries in the country.  Identity thieves choose personal identifying information of children because they have no prior record of credit history yet.  This allows identity thieves to establish credit, receive government benefits or even obtain a driver’s license in the child’s name.  Child identity theft is more difficult to detect than that of an adult.  Because of this it can go undetected for many years until the child is old enough to apply for credit and services of their own.

Synthetic Identity Theft

Synthetic identity theft, also known as, “partial identity theft”, or “fragmented identity theft” has become more prominent in recent years.  This involves stealing a Social Security Number and matching it with another name and birthdate.  When thieves apply for credit with synthetic identities it is very difficult to detect and remedy by credit bureaus.  Because the false information often gets posted to entirely new credit files, neither of the legitimate credit profiles is affected in the beginning.

While nearly all Americans are familiar with the most common forms of identity theft, other types of id theft are not nearly as well known.  It’s important for consumers to understand the differences between these types of crimes to prevent them in the future and get the best identity theft protection available. provides information and education on all forms of identity theft as well as solutions and services to further protect consumers.