What Is Identity Theft and How Does it Happen?

Identity theft or fraud is the taking of a person’s identifying information without their authority or consent for economic gain. In short, it is a crime. When people navigate today’s world, they often accidentally reveal private information to others. Revealing private information can occur as people write checks at the local supermarket, make online purchases, mail tax returns, or apply for a credit card. In all of these transactions, there is the possibility of revealing personal information. Examples of the personal information that thieves seek are: bank account numbers; credit card numbers; income information; Social Security numbers; name; address; and phone numbers. Once any of this information is compromised, it can be used to commit fraud or theft. Criminals may obtain this personal data by “shoulder surfing,” which is the act of watching over people’s shoulders as they enter personal information into computers, phones, or pay pads at retailers. Identity theft is a serious crime. When peoples’ identities are stolen, it often takes significant time and money to repair reputations and credit records. If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, it is important to act quickly.

For more information about identity theft and what to do if you think you may be a victim, please see the links below.

Federal Trade Commission: Identity Theft
This site answers basic questions on identity theft.

United States Department of Justice: Identity Theft and Identity Fraud
The United States Department of Justice website provides information on what identity theft is, how to avoid it, and specific tips for avoiding having your identity stolen in situations such as when you are traveling.

Colorado State Attorney General: Identity Theft Resources
Identity theft resources, including an Identity Theft Repair Kit, provided by the Colorado State Attorney General.

Social Security Administration: Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number
Identity theft information as related to your social security number.

What Should I Do If I Think I May Be a Victim of Identity Theft?

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, it is important to act quickly. The links below list possible actions you can take if you are victim of identity theft.

Colorado State Attorney General: Identity Theft Kit
This site provides information on how to proceed if you are the victim of identity theft.

Federal Trade Commission: Recover From Identity Theft
This site explains terminology and actions to take if you are the victim of identity theft.

Relevant Colorado Laws:

The following two sites provide information regarding the Colorado and Federal laws that relate to identity theft, as well as where you can obtain legal assistance if this crime happens to you.

Colorado State Attorney General: Identity Theft & The Law
Provides an extensive list of Colorado laws related to identity theft

Identity Theft Resource Center: Colorado
This site provides information on Colorado laws related to identity theft.