The most common problems caused by identify theft are financial in nature. Losing your identity to a thief leaves you susceptible to a host of both current and future financial problems. In addition to the possibility that you may lose money out of accounts you control, an identity thief could cause damage to your credit report that could take months or even years to repair.
If a thief takes possession of your identity, you are liable to lose money that currently exists in your financial accounts. An identity thief may have the power to take withdrawals from your checking and savings accounts and run up charges on your credit cards. While laws may protect you against unauthorized charges on your credit cards, there may be little you can do to retrieve cash that has been taken from your bank accounts.
If you don't monitor your credit card statements closely, an identity thief could make numerous charges before you even notice. If you think you have a zero balance and don't check your statement carefully, your credit report may show late payments that you didn't even know were due. While you can legally correct your credit report, during the time you repair your report you may not be able to obtain new credit or even access the credit on your existing cards.
An identity thief may be able to open new credit card accounts in your name and send the statements to a different address. Since you never receive any statements, you may not know that a thief is charging thousands of dollars in your name until a collection agency comes looking for you. You may not be ultimately liable for these charges, but correcting the damage to your credit report can be difficult and time consuming.