Identity Theft
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A Glossary of Identity Theft Terms and Definitions Ė Wondering Who You Are

Youíve probably heard of identity theft. But do you really know the scope of this horrible crime? Identity theft has now replaced terrorism as the main fear for people all around the world. Studies and statistics all lead to identity theft as being the fastest growing crime today. Because identity theft is so widespread, and because itís important you understand all about it, weíve compiled this glossary of identity theft terms and definitions. Pay attention and be aware.

  • 3-in-1 Credit Report
    A 3-in-1 Credit Report is a copy of your credit report from all three CRAs. The reason you need all three is because some merchants donít deal with all three CRAs, so if an identity thief commits his crime using only one of your credit accounts, you wonít know about it unless you see all three credit reports. Most credit monitoring services offer 3-in-1 Credit Reports.

  • Account Takeover
    Account takeover is what an identity thief does, using your personal information to coerce a financial institution into giving him full control over your account.

  • Affidavit of Factual Innocence
    An Affidavit of Factual Innocence is a legal document issued by a court, stating that youíre innocent. You may need one of these if youíve been wrongfully arrested as a result of identity theft.

  • Affidavit of Forgery
    An Affidavit of Forgery is a legal document that states that a certain signature is not yours, but a forgery.

  • Butterfly Pouch Laminate
    Butterfly pouch laminate is a type of plastic that identity thieves use to make a counterfeit license. This plastic allows the thieves to print a logo or official seal on it, which is then laminated onto a driverís license.

  • Check washing
    Check washing is another method identity thieves use to steal from you. They dip your check in acetone, which washes the ink off so they can write it for a higher amount.

  • Consumer Credit Counseling Programs (CCCP)
    There are many Consumer Credit Counseling Programs out there these days. They offer ways to help you get out from under the burden of heavy debt, usually through budgeting and money management. They have connections with creditors that allow them to negotiate lower payments over a longer period of time, in order to give you the opportunity to recover from your debt, and still live a reasonably normal life.

  • Credit fraud
    Credit fraud is another name for identity theft.

  • Credit repair agency
    A credit repair agency, sometimes known as a credit clinic, is a company that offers ďcleanupĒ services to get you out of debt. Some claim they can totally erase your debt. Be very wary of these companies. Many of them will end you up in more trouble than youíre in already.

  • Credit reporting agency (CRA)
    There are three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They keep track of your credit records, and issue credit reports to those who have a legitimate reason for needing to know your credit history.

  • Creditworthiness
    Creditworthiness is the likelihood that youíll pay back a loan, based on your past credit history. An identity thief uses your creditworthiness as a weapon against you.

  • Debit card
    A debit card is a card used for making purchases, similar to a credit card. If there isnít enough money in your account to cover the amount of the purchase, your debit card will be declined, stating that you have insufficient funds.

  • Default
    If you default on a loan or other financial agreement, youíve missed a payment.

  • DL stop (driversí license stop)
    A DL stop is a system that puts a flag on your driverís license in the Department of Motor Vehicleís database, to show that your license has been lost or stolen.

  • Dumpster diving
    Dumpster diving is another method identity thieves use to obtain your personal information. They go through garbage bins, looking for peopleís personal information. Thatís why itís very important to always shred your important documents before throwing them out.

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
    The FCRA is a U.S. federal law that gives everyone the right to see what the CRAs have on file in their credit report. It also outlines permissible purposes for obtaining a periodic free copy of a credit report. And if there are any inaccuracies found, they have the right to dispute them.

  • Fraud alert
    A fraud alert is put on your credit report at the CRAs if and when you become an identity theft victim. It lets everyone know that someone may be trying to obtain new credit in your name, so the process will be very closely scrutinized.

  • Identity fraud
    Identity fraud differs from identity theft in that the thief uses personal information that heís made up, rather than information heís stolen from a real person.

  • Identity theft
    Identity theft, one of the worst crimes in the world, occurs when a thief uses someone elseís personal information as his own, thereby creating a new identity of an existing person. The new identity then applies for any form of credit he can get.

    The most common things an identity thief steals are: your name and address, your Social Security (Insurance) Number, your driverís license number, your employee ID number, your motherís maiden name, and any account information, including bank accounts and credit accounts.

  • Mail fraud
    Mail fraud is a method identity thieves use to obtain your personal information. They steal your mail, which may include pre-approved credit card applications or any other information thatíll help them get credit in your name.

  • Opt-out
    When you opt-out, you notify a financial institution, insurance company, CRA, or any other company that sells your personal information, that you donít want your information shared. This is your right, and it protects you from unwanted junk mail and phone calls, not to mention identity theft.

  • Permissible Purposes
    Permissible purposes are guidelines set out in the FCRA that outline the allowable reasons for requesting a copy of a credit report. One of those reasons is if youíre a victim of identity theft.

  • PIN (Personal Identification Number)
    A PIN is your unique personal password that you punch in to an ATM to alert the machine that itís actually you depositing or withdrawing money. Never write down your PIN where it can be stolen by an identity thief.

  • Shoulder surfing
    Shoulder surfing is the name given to the procedure that identity thieves use to find out your PIN. They either hang around close to the ATM, or wherever you may be entering your PIN, or they can even watch from a distance, using binoculars. Once they have your PIN, youíre in trouble.

  • Skimming
    Skimming is another method identity thieves use to get your personal information. Itís usually done by an employee of a restaurant, a gas station, or any other place where you swipe your card. They have little swiping tools of their own, which they use to quickly swipe your card. A good way to prevent skimming is to always swipe your own card.

  • Truncated Credit Card Number
    A truncated credit card number is what you see on many receipts and other papers that have your credit card number on them. All the digits, except for the last four, are xíd out. This is done to protect you from identity theft.

  • Victimís statement
    A victimís statement is attached to your credit report when you think you may be a victim of identity theft. It asks creditors to contact you before opening any new credit accounts, or making any changes to existing ones.

So those are some of the terms and definitions you need to know about identity theft. Itís a very serious crime, and a rapidly-growing crime. Thatís because itís a very easy crime to commit, and itís also very profitable. And that profit comes out of your pocket!

So be very aware of identity theft. Follow the simple steps to protecting yourself from identity theft and youíll be safe and sound Ė and youíll still be you!

About The Author

Gareth Marples is a successful freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice to consumers about identity theft prevention and protection, credit reports, scores and monitoring services and Robert Kiyosaki's CashFlow 101 Board Game for Kids. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This "Glossary of Identity Theft Terms & Definitions" reprinted with permission.

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