Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Identity Theft and Domestic Violence

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What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when someone takes a person's identifying information —like their Social Security number, credit card data, or other confidential or sensitive information— and illegally uses it as though it were theirs. Practically, this behavior can include taking over bank and credit card accounts, falsely obtaining credit under someone else's name and credit history, and using this information to buy things like a car. These activities can be devastating to the victim, resulting in lost funds, destroyed credit rating, being accused of crimes committed by the abuser but under the victim's name, and other damage that can take a long time to repair.

Identity Theft in the Context of Domestic Violence

Victims of domestic violence can be particularly vulnerable to identity theft. Survivors of domestic violence often need to take extra precautions to protect themselves from abusers who may use their personal information as a means of control. Their partners have easy access to confidential information that may come to their home in the form of credit card bills and Social Security mailings. Abusers may use such information to open new credit cards in the survivors' names and/or open lines of credit in their children's names. Below are useful tips to help identify if someone is a victim of identity theft and help them to take control of their financial well being and reclaim their financial independence.

How to Find Out if Someone is a Victim of Identity Theft

The victim is typically in the best position to know if his/her identity has been used fraudulently. There are steps a domestic violence victim can take to determine if they have been the victim of identity theft.

How to Prevent Identity Theft

How a victim chooses to protect against identity theft will depend upon her/his unique situation. Any decisions about taking the steps below should be made within the context of an overall safety plan.

Responding to Identity Theft

If someone's identity has been used fraudulently, there are steps they can take to address the harm and to correct information on their credit report.

Other Information and Resources