Impersonation fraud is also known as identity fraud and occurs when a criminal steals enough personal information about their victims so that they can impersonate them for a range of purposes such as:
o To access their victims existing financial accounts in order to steal cash and run up charges on plastic cards.
o To open up new credit accounts in the victims name such as credit cards, loans, hire service agreements and cell phone contracts.
o If the thief manages to steal enough of their victims key personal identity such as a passport or drivers license they could even use this on order to leave the country undetected, or to falsify their identity when arrested for crimes and violations. This would mean that any charges would be made in the victim's name, and they would be liable for them until they are able to prove that identity theft has occurred and clean their records.
There are ways in which you can protect your personal information and reduce the risks of thieves getting hold of what they need to carry out fraudulent crimes and one of the most effective is to sign up to one of the identity theft protection services currently available such as ID Patrol, LifeLock, TrustedID or Identity Guard. These services offer a wide range of measures that can protect your personal information against identity thieves such as consumer credit report monitoring and fraud flags, and also provide support and financial cover to help you if you do become a victim. There are many other steps you can take to protect your identity as well, such as keeping your personal information private and not sharing it with anyone unless absolutely necessary, and taking care to log in safely on a secure computer (with up to date anti- malware software) if you are using online email, business or banking accounts.