Identity theft also known as identity fraud is the intentional use of somebody else’s identity for private advantage, usually as a technique to achieve a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in other persons’ names, and maybe to the opposite persons’ disadvantage or loss. fraud happens when thieves use another’s personally identifiable information (PII) like their name, identifying number, or MasterCard number without their permission to commit fraud or other crimes.

The term fraud was coined in 1964. Since that point, the definition of fraud has been statutorily proscribed throughout both the U.K and the US. Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the US for the very obvious reason that most of us have made our most valuable personal information available online, and cyber criminals are easily stealing it. The fastest-growing White Collar Crime in India has been identified as Identity Theft- and it is affecting each one of us in insidious ways.

We all have heard of the problem, but only a few know that the theft of the identity can be so devastating. In India identity theft accounts for 77 percent of the fraud cases in 2015 only, amongst various financial products, auto loans, etc have the largest number of fraud cases of identity theft represented by 85 percent of the total detected frauds in 2015.


  • FINANCIAL IDENTITY THEFT– financial identity theft is the most common type of identity theft, in most cases, the identity thief is trying to get a credit card, loan, or just buy things by claiming to be someone else. This could damage a victim’s credit score and their ability to get a loan in the future.
  • MEDICAL IDENTITY THEFT– medical identity theft happens when someone uses another’s identity to fraudulently obtain medical service or some medical insurance coverage. The victim’s health insurance provider may get the fraudulent bills, which will be reflected in the victim’s account as the services he received. This type of identity theft can be a costly and complicated crime to resolve.
  • CRIMINAL IDENTITY THEFT– This identity theft usually happens when someone at the time of getting arrested give stolen identity information to the police, sometimes they also back this up with a false identity. It can be very difficult for the victim of criminal identity theft to clear their criminal record. As a result of criminal fraud, police will sometimes list the victim’s name as an alias for the criminal’s true identity in their records. Victims of criminal fraud may often find that some sources still have incorrect criminal records in their databases even after it’s been cleared by courts and therefore the police records are corrected. due to that, future background checks might even show false criminal records
  • CHILD IDENTITY THEFT– In child identity theft a child’s personal information is stolen like social security number to apply for government benefits, opening bank accounts, buying a house, or getting a driving license. This theft can go unnoticed for years because most minors don’t discover the problem until they become adults.
  • IDENTITY CLONING – In this type of theft, the thief attempts to impersonate someone else for the sole purpose of not revealing themselves. These people just want to become anonymous for one reason or another, they could be hiding from creditors, illegal immigrants. Because this type isn’t explicitly financially motivated, it’s harder to track, and they’re often isn’t a paper trail for law enforcement to follow.
  • SYNTHETIC IDENTITY THEFT– Synthetic identity theft is a type of identity theft where identities are completely or partially fabricated by combining different pieces of PII from different sources. For example, combining one stolen social security number with an unrelated birth-date. The very first victim of synthetic identity theft are the creditors who grant the lines of credit. Individual victims are affected if their name gets mixed with a synthetic identity, or if negative information in a credit report sub-file damages their credit score.


  • SKIMMER DEVICES– A handheld device used by thieves that can copy your credit information, it is small enough to fit into a pocket and copy your credit card details in few seconds by swiping your card and record the necessary details. This information then sold to an organized crime ring. These devices can also be placed on ATMs.
  • DUMPSTER DIVING– Printed documents that consist of our private information like social security number, the account number should be shredded before being thrown away, because thieves may find our private information by going through our garbage. They use this information to assume or sell your financial identity.
  • INTERNET– These thieves know how to intercept information sent over unsecured internet connections. Some plant spyware into seemingly innocent downloads.
  • PHISHING– In phishing, thieves send emails and pop-ups that appear to be from banks or some other companies, where they’ll ask you to click on the link and provide your information related to your account. These emails may contain attachments bearing malware designed to steal personal data.
  • MAIL THEFT– Thieves can find our personal information by going through our mails. Thieves have been known to reroute mail-in attempts to get their hands on your sensitive information.
  • HACKING– Hackers unethical break into the computer of other that contained their personal information 


The crime of identity theft consists of these steps:

  • Wrongful collection of personally identifiable information of an individual.
  •  Wrongful use of such information with the intention of causing legal harm to that person information

Since an identity theft involves both theft and fraud, therefore the provisions about both as provided under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) is often invoked along with the Information Technology Act, 2000. Some of the Sections of IPC such as forgery (Section 464), making false documents (Section 465), forgery for purpose of cheating (Section 468), reputation (Section 469), using as genuine a forged document (Section 471) and possession of a document known to be forged and intending to use it as genuine (Section 474) can be coupled with those in the IT Act.

Penalties for identity theft are wide-ranging a, they vary based on the offense. Some penalties for identity theft include :

  • It happens only in rare cases that those guilty of identity theft avoid jail time, but in certain first-offense scenarios, they may be sentenced to probation if there wasn’t any significant harm, but those on probation will still be responsible for fines and restitution.
  •  Being issued for both felony and minor wrongdoing charges is the most common consequence for the malefactor.
  • The perpetrator may be required to compensate the victim for financial losses, which can include legal fees and even costs related to emotional distress.
  •  Identity thieves are often sent to prison, with the minimum sentence being two years for aggravated identity theft. The penalty also depends on case severity. 


Recovery from identity theft usually depends on the type of information stolen, the victim should contact the appropriate organization i.e the bank or health insurance provider, and inform of the situation. They should get their account frozen or closed to prevent further transactions by thieves. If someone’s personal information has been compromised in a data security breach, they should go to the company responsible, to see what types of assistance and protections it may have in place for victims and their data.

To recover we first need to analyze what’s been stolen and try to discover the source, think of all your recent internet activities. change your passwords and contact your institution as well as the police as soon as possible. 


Nowadays there are numerous types of identity theft, which is why monitoring your identity is so important. The use of credit monitoring and identity monitoring services can help stop fraudulent activity so that you understand what information may be at risk. Only we can protect ourselves from these attacks we must be aware of the ways by which our identity can be stolen to avoid it. It could be a major criminal issue in the future because it is difficult to find these criminals who are going to commit identity theft. That’s why we should always be careful about our personal information.


Author: Sanidhya Pateriya,
School of Law, Jagran Lakecity University / 1st year

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