Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information - without your permission - to commit fraud or other crimes. According to the Social Security Administration, identity theft is considered one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.

One example of a common identity theft scam is "phishing." In a phishing scam, identity thieves pose as representatives of legitimate businesses or government agencies and send out e-mails designed to trick unsuspecting individuals into divulging personal information. Oftentimes, these e-mails inform the recipients that there is some problem with their account and directs them to an official looking website where they are asked to enter information such as a Social Security number or credit card number in order to fix the problem.