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Theft (also known as stealing) is in general, the wrongful taking of someone else's property without that person's willful consent. In law, it is usually the broadest term for a crime against property. It is a general term that encompasses offences such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, trespassing, shoplifting, intrusion, fraud (theft by deception) and sometimes criminal conversion. Legally, theft is generally considered to be synonymous with larceny. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft [Oct 2005]
Identity theft is the deliberate assumption of another person's identity, usually to gain access to their credit or frame them for some crime. Less commonly, it is to enable illegal immigration, terrorism, espionage or changing identity permanently. It may also be a means of blackmail, especially if medical privacy or political privacy has been breached, and revealing the activities undertaken by the thief under the name of the victim would have serious consequences like loss of job or marriage.
Identity theft is usually the result of serious breaches of privacy. Except for the simplest credit cases, it is usually not possible without breakdowns in:
- customer privacy, in which case the consequences may be limited to fraud on one corporation, typically the one that leaked the data in the first place, e.g. account numbers.
- consumer privacy, more serious, where credit card numbers or other generally-useful identity is stolen and used much more widely.
- medical privacy enabling one to alter biometrics stored on the victim, and thus very effectively impersonate them even through secure points.
- client confidentiality and political privacy, making it easy to effectively impersonate someone, by using confidential information that an ordinary impersonator would not have access to.
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_theft [Jul 2004]
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