The term identity theft was coined in 1964. Identity theft is the using of a person's identity deliberately as a method of gaining financial benefit of obtaining credit and other benefits from the person. It is not illegal to use an alias or a nickname however, it is illegal to assume the identity of a person in order to gain something from them. If for example a person stole your identity and got themselves involved in some theft or got themselves in trouble, you will have to suffer the consequences of the actions of the person who stole your identity because the authorities will all assume that it was you performing the actions.

Identity theft can occur when a person steals information about you like your name, credit card information and identity number without having authorization from you in order to commit crime and fraud. It is difficult to distinguish between data breaches and identity theft because the in most case these victims of identity theft do not really know that their information was stolen. According to a report by FTC, it is not always easy to detect identity theft especially if you are a victim. In most cases, identity fraud is not as a result of identity theft although sometimes it is.

It is possible that a person could obtain information illegally and misappropriate it without really committing identity theft. The US office of government accountability noted that most breaches do not result in identity theft and that the full extent of the theft of identity is unknown. The causes of identity theft vary very greatly and are most times are not known. Each person has about a 2% chance of becoming a victim of identity theft in his or her lifetime.

The main reason why identity theft is thought to occur is because of the many cyber- crimes that occur. There are many people out here who have learned to use malicious software to gain private information from people without their knowledge. The increase in the usage of social media and the internet has made it such that people have more access to each other . This has in every sense made it very easy for people to steal people identifies and know everything they need to know about their targets. There are even applications that show you how to easily steal a person's credit card information. These applications increase the ease with which people can gain each other's information.

The many applications and software that are available make it possible for everyone to use the information. Today, even an inexperienced hacker can have access to other people's information without having to strain about it. There are five categories of identity theft:

Criminal theft

This is when a person poses as someone else when they are arrested for a crime.

Financial identity theft

This is using a person's credit card information to obtain goods and services.

Identity cloning

This is using another person's information and assuming their identity even in their daily life

Medical identity theft

Using another person's identity to get medical services and drugs

Child identity theft

This is getting money meant for another child and other types of payments.