Fraud & Identity Theft

Trends in Identity Theft

Over the past several years, identity theft has been on the rise. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2010 approximately 8.6 million American households have had at least one person over the age of 12 who was the victim of identity theft. In 2012, in New Jersey, over 8,400 people reported that they were the victim of identity theft. [Source] The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office is making a concerted effort to combat identity theft in Monmouth County. This page is designed to present the residents of Monmouth County with the information they need to protect themselves from this type of crime.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information for his or her own personal gain. This includes things such as using your credit card number to make unauthorized charges, opening credit cards in your name and not paying the bills, opening bank accounts in your name, taking out loans in your name, and establishing phone, wireless, or internet service in your name, among others.

In New Jersey, the most likely form identity theft takes is government documents or benefits fraud. In 2012, 36% of the identity theft complaints in New Jersey were the result of government documents or benefits fraud, while the national average was 46.4%. Credit card fraud constituted the second most likely form of identity theft in New Jersey at 17%, while the national average was 13.4%. [Source]

How Does Identity Theft Happen?

Identity thieves employ many different methods to obtain someone's personal information. Some of these methods are increasingly high-tech, though most are simple and easy to accomplish. Below are the most common methods identity thieves use.

  • Stealing your wallet or purse
  • Stealing your personal information from your home
  • Stealing your mail
  • Obtaining the information from a business by stealing it while they work, bribing employees, or hacking the records.
  • Posing as someone who has a legal right to your information, such as a landlord or an employer, to get your credit report.
  • "Skimming" – capturing your credit or debit card number in a data storage device attached to a credit card machine or ATM.
  • "Phishing" / "Pretexting" – posing as a legitimate company that needs your information, either on the phone or online.
  • "Dumpster Diving" – rummaging through disposed of trash for personal information (i.e. financial statements or credit card receipts, etc.).