Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personally identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The victim of identity theft can suffer adverse consequences if they are held responsible for the perpetrator’s actions.

Identity theft can be partially mitigated by not identifying oneself unnecessarily. This implies that companies, IT systems and procedures should not demand excessive amounts of personal information or credentials for identification and authentication. Requiring, storing and processing personal identifiers (such as Social Security number, national identification number, driver’s license number, credit card number, etc.) increases the risks of identity theft unless this valuable personal information is adequately secured at all times.

To protect yourself against electronic identity theft by phishing, hacking or malware, individuals are encouraged to maintain computer security, for example by keeping their operating systems and web browser security fully patched against known security vulnerabilities, running antivirus software and being cautious in their use of IT. Below are links to resources to help you stay protected from identity theft.