Identity Theft/Fraud – Victims Resource Center (2023)

“Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another individual’s personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”

– (National Criminal Justice Reference Service)

What is the difference between the two?

The difference between the two is the way the information is used.

Identity Theft

Identity theft results when the criminal takes personal information (social security number, name, birthdate) and uses it to make new accounts i.e. medical insurance, file taxes, or apply for jobs. They assume the other person’s identity.

Identity Fraud

Identity fraud occurs when the thief uses the victim’s personal information to commit a crime ranging from using the victims credit card to make a purchase to committing a more serious crime such as giving law enforcement the information of the victim rather than their own. Identity fraud can also occur when the criminal makes up the identity and gives fake information to financial institutions.

(Video) Identity Theft and Fraud Concerns for Businesses

Common ways that identity theft/fraud is committed

  1. Looking over people’s shoulders as they punch in their bank card numbers or listening to people give their information over the phone for things such as car rentals or hotel booking.
  2. Searching through garbage for documents with your information and activating “pre-approved” credit cards.
  3. Intercepting mail then redirecting it to the thief’s address.
  4. Your social security number may be stolen by means of
    • Stealing information you provide to an unsecure website, documents at your job or home.
    • Buying information from an inside source such as an employee at a bank, store, or another company that has your information.
    • Theft of the actual Social Security card.

Steps to Take If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

Dealing with identity theft can be very overwhelming and upsetting. There is always a counselor/advocate at Victims Resource Center available to help you navigate the steps to report and recover from this crime. Please call 570-823-0765 (Luzerne County), 570-836-5544 (Wyoming County), or 610-379-0151 (Carbon County) to talk to a counselor/advocate.

It is very important to record dates you made phone calls or sent letters to anyone regarding your identity theft. There are four initial steps to take if you suspect your identity has been stolen:

1) Call the companies affected

Call the companies that were affected by the identity theft/fraud. Explain to them that someone has stolen your identity and ask that they freeze or close the accounts. Change login usernames, pins, and passwords to all affected accounts. Contact your bank and/or credit card companies and business(s) in which the theft is associated with to report the crime.

2) Place an initial fraud alert

Call one of the three credit reporting companies (Equifax 1-800-525-6285, Experian 1-888-397-3742, or TransUnion 1-800-680-7289) to place a fraud alert on your credit file. Check with the company you make a report with to ensure that they will notify the other two credit companies.

3) Order your credit report

(Video) Fraud and Identity Theft Research Synthesis

After placing a fraud alert, call each individual credit company and explain that you’ve placed a fraud alert and order a free copy of your credit report.

4) Create an identity theft report

An Identity Theft Report is used to document the crime and can be helpful in getting fraudulent information off your credit report, stop companies from trying to collect debts from the theft, place an extended fraud alert on your credit report, and get information about the accounts opened or misused by the thief. (From the Federal Trade Commission)

There are three steps to completing this report

  1. a. Submit a complaint to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Print out a copy of the report (A.K.A. Identity Theft Affidavit) and bring it your local police station.
  2. b. File a police report about the identity theft and get a copy of the report.
  3. c. Attach the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit to the police report to make a complete Identity Theft Report.
In cases of medical identity theft…

If you have received medical bills for medical care or prescriptions you did not collect, a notice saying you’ve reached your limit for medical insurance, denial of insurance because your records show you have a condition that you do not have, etc. then you should follow the four initial steps listed above.

In addition:

  • Contact your health insurance to notify them of the theft.
  • You also have the right to obtain your medical records and review them.
  • Highlight errors on your medical files, make copies, and send a copy to the medical facility and include a copy of your Identity Theft Report with it.
  • Send via certified mail and ask for a receipt upon delivery.
  • Use the website below for additional information.


Scam artists are especially drawn to elders as they tend to have substantial savings, own their homes, and have excellent credit. Seniors are inclined to be nicer on the phone and are less likely to report being tricked making them prime targets for scammers. When elders do report they often have difficulties remembering the details of the scam. Scam artists know this which is why seniors are often the targets of scams. Some common scams that seniors may experience are as follows:

Medical Insurance Fraud

Medical insurance fraud occurs when a customer or medical provider bills private insurance or Medicare for services or medical equipment that was not needed or provided. Make sure to read forms to make sure that you know what is being billed to insurance and NEVER sign a blank form. Do not do business with door-to-door salesmen who say that medical equipment or services are free. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

Be careful when purchasing medications online. Do not buy from unlicensed distributors or anywhere that does not require a prescription from your physician. Online pharmacies that are safe to buy from will have a seal of approval from the Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the United States called the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS).

(Video) Identity Theft Resource Center - Using AI for good to reduce identity fraud

Funeral/Cemetery Fraud

It is important to remember that if the deceased is being cremated that embalming and a casket is not required. Also, educate yourself about what fees are basic with the funeral service and what are additional fees. Review information and contract before signing anything and do not let anyone pressure you into buying things that you do not want or need. If in doubt, bring a friend or relative to provide support and assist you in making decisions.

Telemarketer Fraud

Seniors, especially women living alone, are targets for telemarketers. If you get a phone call from a telemarketer, ask for more information about the company. If caller is legitimate he or she will be happy to provide you with information about their company or charity. You can check out these organizations on the Better Business Bureau ( ), or the National Fraud Information Center ( ) to see whether they are legitimate or not. Remember that scammers try to play on your emotions to make quick decisions. A legit business or charity will understand that you may need to research or think about a purchase or donation. See “Additional Resources” to get web links for sites that will allow you to restrict telemarketers from calling your phone and research the legitimacy of charitable organizations. – (

Ways to Keep Your Information Safe

In the event of identity theft or fraud occurring, it may be helpful to have the information listed on any stolen documents. It is important to make front and back copies of all your personal identification documents such as credit/debit cards, social security cards, driver license, passport, state issued ID’s, birth certificate, marriage certificates, death certificates, major purchases documents (mortgages, car purchases, student loans, etc.). Keep these copies in a secure place such as a safe and away from the originals. This is helpful so you have all the information listed on these documents including phone numbers, account numbers, and instructions on what to do if stolen.

Guard your SS number

Keep your social security card secure and only give out your S.S. number when absolutely necessary.

Shred papers (receipts, bank statements, credit card offers, etc.) and cards containing any personal information to keep dumpster divers from obtaining your information.

Use private, secure Wi-Fi networks

Only use private, secure Wi-Fi networks (such as your home network) when using websites that have personal information i.e. online banking or bill pay. Public Wi-Fi networks such as networks at coffee shops, books stores, restaurants, or any other place where people who you do not know are using the same Wi-Fi network are not safe.

(Video) Nearly half of complaints to Identity Theft Resource Center were about Google Voice Scam

Watch for "shoulder surfers"

Watch out for “shoulder surfers”, people who stand and watch you put your debit pin in, listen to your conversations about your accounts, watch your computer while you online shop, etc.

Be careful with apps

Be careful with apps on your cell phone. Many apps save log in information and open directly to your personal accounts. This makes it easy for someone to go into your cell phone and obtain your personal information.

Collect your mail

Collect your mail everyday and be mindful of billing cycles. If you do not receive a bill when it is normally due, contact the billing company.

Order a credit report

Order a yearly credit report and review any newly opened accounts.

Additional Resources

See a list of websites available to assist you in your identity theft recovery. A counselor can help you navigate the process.


(Video) Advanced Identity Theft Responses


Identity Theft/Fraud – Victims Resource Center? ›

This website can be utilized for assistance with resolving identity theft cases, and for education

Teacher education or teacher training refers to programs, policies, procedures, and provision designed to equip (prospective) teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, approaches, methodologies and skills they require to perform their tasks effectively in the classroom, school, and wider community. › wiki › Teacher_education
on topics such as cyber security, data breaches, scams, privacy, and prevention for individuals and organizations.

Is identity theft resource center legitimate? ›

The ITRC Is a non-profit organization established to empower and guide consumers, victims, business and government to minimize risk and mitigate the impact of identity compromise and crime.

What agency should you contact for help if you are a victim of identity theft? ›

How to report ID theft. To report identity theft, contact: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at or call 1-877-438-4338.

What is the best resource for someone who is the victim of identity theft? › is the federal government's one-stop resource for identity theft victims.

What is the identity theft resource center's Itrc? ›

The ITRC is a non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft, data breaches, cyber security, scams/fraud and privacy issues.

How do I get rid of collections due to identity theft? ›

The best way to do this is to go to the police with an "identity theft report" that you have already prepared. You can create an identity theft report through the FTC's website. Prepare a dispute letter to mail to Experian, Equifax & TransUnion requesting the fraudulent account(s) be removed from your credit reports.

Should I contact the credit bureau about identity theft? ›

By contacting the nationwide credit reporting companies, you can place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. You can also request that they block or remove fraudulent debts.

How do I check to see if someone is using my Social Security number? ›

Review the earnings posted to your record on your Social Security Statement and report any inconsistencies to us. Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 1-800-908-4490 or visit them online, if you believe someone is using your SSN to work, get your tax refund, or other abuses involving taxes.

How do I lock my Social Security number? ›

If you know your Social Security information has been compromised, you can request to Block Electronic Access. This is done by calling our National 800 number (Toll Free 1-800-772-1213 or at our TTY number at 1-800-325-0778).

How do I find out if I am a victim of identity theft? ›

What you can do to detect identity theft
  1. Track what bills you owe and when they're due. If you stop getting a bill, that could be a sign that someone changed your billing address.
  2. Review your bills. ...
  3. Check your bank account statement. ...
  4. Get and review your credit reports.

How much does identity theft cost victims? ›

How Scammers Engage Victims
Identity Theft Reports and Losses by Contact Method
Contact MethodNumber of ReportsMedian Loss
Phone call646,440$1,200
5 more rows
Oct 11, 2022

Is LifeLock really worth it? ›

There are a few areas where LifeLock stands out among its competitors, but there are also some areas where its products are lacking. LifeLock has one of the best money-back guarantees that we have found in the business, with a full 60 days to try their annual plans before you commit to an entire year of service.

Which consequence can victims of identity theft face? ›

They may face denials of loans and mortgages, and be refused employment. They may also be unable to open a bank account, and may need to spend months or years attempting to resolve economic mistakes and issues. Identity theft can also have potentially life-threatening consequences.

What do identity theft monitoring services do? ›

Identity theft services monitor personally identifiable information in credit applications, public records, websites, and other places for any unusual activity that could be signs of identity theft.

What information would an identity theft be looking for? ›

What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards. Identity thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver's licenses in your name.

What data do identity thieves steal? ›

Besides basic information like name, address and telephone number, identity thieves look for social insurance numbers, driver's license numbers, credit card and/or bank account numbers, as well as bank cards, telephone calling cards, birth certificates or passports.

Can collections drain your bank account? ›

If a debt collector has a court judgment, then it may be able to garnish your bank account or wages. Certain debts owed to the government may also result in garnishment, even without a judgment.

Can identity theft ruin your credit score? ›

Unfortunately, being a victim of identity theft means your credit scores may be negatively impacted. Thieves could open new lines of credit or credit cards in your name -- and fail to pay the bills.

Do you have to pay back debt from identity theft? ›

Identity Theft. If you've been the victim of identity theft, you can take steps to reclaim your good name and restore your credit. To make certain that you do not become responsible for any debts incurred in your name by an identity thief, you must prove that you didn't create the debt.

How long does it take to fix credit after identity theft? ›

"It can take days, months, or even years to untangle identity theft," says Tolmachoff. This is because each case of identity theft is unique, and the recovery timeline can depend on many factors, including the type of identity theft that took place.

How to prevent someone from opening a credit card in your name? ›

Consider a credit freeze or extended fraud alert

As an alternative, you can also set up a credit freeze with each of the credit bureaus, which will prevent anyone from opening new accounts in your name until you personally take steps to “unfreeze” your reports.

Do credit card companies prosecute identity theft? ›

Credit card fraud can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level. Most credit card fraud cases that lead to criminal charges are handled at the state and local levels.

Can someone use my Social Security number with their name? ›

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name.

What can someone do with the last 4 digits of your SSN? ›

As long as a hacker or scammer has access to other personal information such as your name and address, they can use the last four digits of your SSN (in most cases) to open accounts in your name, steal your money and government benefits, or even get healthcare and tax refunds in your name.

Can I tell someone my Social Security number over the phone? ›

You should never provide your SSN to someone you don't know who calls you on the phone and requests it. This same warning applies to unsolicited emails and any forms you fill out on the Internet. In general, don't give your SSN to anyone unless you are absolutely certain they have a reason and a right to have it.

How do I stop my SSN from being used? ›

You can lock your SSN by calling the Social Security Administration or by creating an E-Verify account. Also, you can contact all three of the nationwide CRAs to place a freeze on your credit reports.

What are three warning signs of identity theft? ›

8 Warning Signs of Identity Theft
  • Unrecognized bank or credit card transactions.
  • Unfamiliar inquiries on your credit report.
  • Unexpected bills or statements.
  • Unexpected lack of bills or statements.
  • Surprise credit score drop.
  • Denial of loan or credit applications.
  • Calls from debt collectors.
Feb 13, 2023

Can you deactivate a Social Security number? ›

People generally cannot voluntarily withdraw or stop participating in the Social Security program. You must pay Social Security taxes, regardless of you or your employer's citizenship or place of residence.

What happens to victims of identity theft? ›

Identity theft has profound consequences for its victims. They can have their bank accounts wiped out, credit histories ruined, and jobs and valuable possessions taken away. Some victims have even been arrested for crimes they did not commit.

Can someone take out a loan in my name without me knowing? ›

If anyone, including a spouse, family member, or intimate partner, uses your personal information to open up an account in your name without your permission, this could be considered identify theft.

Can my identity be stolen with my name and address? ›

Can thieves steal identities with only a name and address? In short, the answer is “no.” Which is a good thing, as your name and address are in fact part of the public record. Anyone can get a hold of them. However, because they are public information, they are still tools that identity thieves can use.

Is identity theft taken seriously? ›

Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time and money. It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name.

What is the most common type of identity theft? ›

What are the different types of identity theft? These are some of the most common types of identity theft, as well as steps you can take to help combat them: Financial identity theft. This is the most common form of identity theft — when someone uses another person's information for financial gain.

What are 5 examples of personal information that can be used to steal an identity? ›

Identity theft is when someone uses another person's financial or personal data, usually for monetary gain. This means a fraudster may take sensitive information like names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, driver's license details, addresses, and bank account numbers or credit card numbers.

What is the downside of LifeLock? ›

Downsides. Only one credit bureau is monitored with the first three plans. You have to pony up and pay for the most expensive plan to monitor all three credit bureaus. Since not all companies report to all three bureaus, there could be fraud that you're not made aware of.

Is there a better option than LifeLock? ›

Three Great LifeLock Alternatives, One Decision

In our experience, Identity Guard, IdentityForce, and ID Watchdog are all worth taking a hard look at when picking out identity theft protection. Identity Guard would be our pick, but that's based on a myriad of financial and personal factors.

Is there a better service than LifeLock? ›

The bottom line: Aura offers more features, better protection with included digital security tools, and more affordable pricing than LifeLock's comparable plan.

Who is most likely to be a victim of identity theft? ›

People ages 30 to 39 are most likely to get their identities stolen. 51% of victims of identity theft had an annual income of $75,000 or more. Caucasians made up 71% of all identity theft victims. 21% of the victims report they have lost more than $20,000 due to identity theft.

Do identity thieves get caught? ›

There's no 100% foolproof way to catch an identity thief. After all, the crook could be a total stranger running cyber-scams in another country – or it could be someone close to you, like a family member or friend.

Who are common victims of identity theft? ›

In the US, the most common victims of identity theft are aged 30-39 years old. This is closely followed by those aged 40-49 years old. The least likely age group to fall victim to identity theft by raw numbers are 80+.

Does the FBI handle identity theft? ›

Federal prosecutors work with federal investigative agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service to prosecute identity theft and fraud cases.

How do you clean up identity theft? ›

Scan credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges.
  1. File a Claim with Your Identity Theft Insurance. ...
  2. Notify Companies of Your Stolen Identity. ...
  3. File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission. ...
  4. Contact Your Local Police Department. ...
  5. Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports. ...
  6. Freeze Your Credit.
Jul 19, 2022

What are the most common things stolen during identity theft? ›

Examples of Identity Theft
  • Stolen Checks. If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the check verification companies. ...
  • ATM Cards. ...
  • Fraudulent Change of Address. ...
  • Social Security Number Misuse. ...
  • Passports. ...
  • Phone Service. ...
  • Driver License Number Misuse. ...
  • False Civil and Criminal Judgements.

How much information is needed for identity theft? ›

Identity theft begins when someone takes your personally identifiable information such as your name, Social Security Number, date of birth, your mother's maiden name, and your address to use it, without your knowledge or permission, for their personal financial gain.

What is a key indicator of identity theft? ›

Some clear indicators of identity theft include bills for items that you didn't buy; these can be seen on your credit card or received via email or other means, calls from debt collectors regarding accounts that you didn't open, and your loan applications being denied when you believed your credit is in good standing.

How do I find out who stole my identity? ›

What you can do to detect identity theft
  1. Track what bills you owe and when they're due. If you stop getting a bill, that could be a sign that someone changed your billing address.
  2. Review your bills. ...
  3. Check your bank account statement. ...
  4. Get and review your credit reports.

What do hackers target through identity theft? ›

Many online services require users to fill in personal details such as full name, home address and credit card number. Criminals steal this data from online accounts to commit identity theft, such as using the victim's credit card or taking loans in their name.

How can I check if I have been a victim of identity theft? ›

If you think you might have been a victim of ID theft: Contact the companies where you think the fraud occurred and let them know what happened. Check your credit reports to find evidence of fraud. You can get free credit reports from or directly from the credit bureaus.

Which federal agency gathers identity theft complaints? ›

The FTC handles multiple complaint types, including data breaches, false advertising, identity theft, and Do Not Call violations. Complaints can be made online at

Will the government call you about identity theft? ›

If you get a call like this, hang up the phone. It's a scammer. Because government agencies won't call, email, or text you and ask for money or personal information. Only a scammer will do that.

How do you check if my SSN is being used? ›

To see if someone's using your SSN, check your credit report. You can check it online through, the only authorized website for free credit reports. Or you can call their phone number at 1-877-322-8228 to request your free copy.

Can someone open a credit card in my name without my Social Security number? ›

An identity thief would have to obtain personal details such as your name, birthdate and Social Security number in order to open a credit card in your name. However, it is a federal crime to do this, and it can result in jail time when the thief is caught for their behavior.

What are 3 steps you should take if you believe your identity has been compromised? ›

Contact your police department, report the crime and obtain a police report. Decide whether you want to place a security freeze on your credit report.

How long does it take the IRS to fix identity theft? ›

The IRS says that it resolves tax identity theft cases in 120 to 180 days, depending on your circumstances. But in many instances, victims of complex tax identity theft have experienced resolution times of more than one year.

How do I freeze my Social Security number? ›

This is done by calling our National 800 number (Toll Free 1-800-772-1213 or at our TTY number at 1-800-325-0778). Once requested, any automated telephone and electronic access to your Social Security record is blocked.

Does the FBI help with identity theft? ›

Federal prosecutors work with federal investigative agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service to prosecute identity theft and fraud cases.

Can identity theft be traced? ›

If you've been the victim of identity theft, and someone has stolen your Social Security number or personal data to file taxes, open credit accounts, or make charges you didn't authorize, you can find out who committed this illegal act. There's no 100% foolproof way to catch an identity thief.

Do federal agents contact you by phone? ›

The FBI advises that: Government agencies will never call to demand money or personal information. Even if you do owe money, legitimate government representatives won't call to threaten to arrest you, freeze your accounts, or take your property. You shouldn't trust caller ID.

Does the FBI leave voicemails? ›

"Most call centers will not leave a message," the FBI explained. But if you do end up answering and you hear the person on the other end of the line claiming to be from the FBI, don't be afraid to end the call—even if it turns out to actually be the FBI and not a scammer.

What can someone do with the last four digits of your Social Security number? ›

As long as a hacker or scammer has access to other personal information such as your name and address, they can use the last four digits of your SSN (in most cases) to open accounts in your name, steal your money and government benefits, or even get healthcare and tax refunds in your name.


1. Identity Theft Resource Center Offers Help To Identity Theft Victims
2. Identity Theft is Not a Game | Discover | Credit Resource Center
3. The Intersection of Stalking & Financial Fraud
(National Center for Victims of Crime)
4. Identity Theft in the Context of Family Violence
(National Center for Victims of Crime)
5. DA Uses Live Chat Feature to Help ID Theft Victims
(Prosecutors' Center for Excellence)
6. What do you do if you are a victim of identity theft?
(Financially Equipped)


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