Identity theft affects over 15 million residents in the United states with an estimated loss of over 50 billion dollars each year according to Rob Douglas an identity theft and scam expert. It has a history of plaguing society with various social, economical, and financial problems that continues to persist individuals and businesses alike. Identity theft is defined as “The fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain”.
Social security number, name, addresses, and employment history information are some of the private identifying information that identity thieves use to ray on individuals. Not only individuals but small, medium, and large business are affected by identity thief which have an underlining effect on the entire economy. People identities are unique to them and should be only used by them to progress financially and no one else. However, the crime of identity theft makes it very easy to impersonate another individual.
In modern times, the theft of an identity can be used for many things. Some on the things it can be used for includes underage drinking, opening loans and credit cards account, insurance scams and laundering of resources. It can also be used to access our peoples online bank account or credit cards to gain access to sensitive information. Once a thief has access to this information they can use it to withdraw funds from people account or utilized their credit. If they were unable to get loans or credit cards with their own name, they might be able to be get them with yours.
After they used all the money, you would be liable even if you have never heard of the loan or credit card. They can also use your identity to commit crimes and you will one day find out that you have warrants for your arrest for something you never did. Another big issue in the world is the heft of an identity to be able to work. In the United States, an official employee must have a social security number to fill out forms. This leads to some illegal immigrants stealing social security numbers to use. The rise of the Internet has helped identity theft with its rapid growth.
With the way the people now use the internet, it has become much easier to obtain personal information that can be used to steal an identity. Answers to security questions, credit card numbers, and even social security numbers can be obtained if someone has access to your computer. From the United States Department of Justice’s site, many people respond to “spam… unsolicited E-mail… that promises them some benefit but requests identifying data, without realizing that in many cases, the requester has no intention of keeping his promise.
In some cases, criminals reportedly have used computer technology to obtain large amounts of personal data”. When these criminals get enough information on someone, they can use that person’s identity to do so many things. They can make “false applications for loans and credit cards, fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts, fraudulent use of telephone calling cards, or obtaining other oods or privileges which the criminal might be denied if he were to use his real name”. There is also danger of identity fraud even if you do not use the internet.
The theft does not even have to occur with a break in to your house. A criminal may engage in something called shoulder surfing, which is when they are “watching you from a nearby location as you punch in your telephone calling card number or credit card number or listen in on your conversation if you give your credit-card number over the telephone to a hotel or rental car company”. Also, sometimes with pre-approved credit card letters, if you discard them without tearing up the enclosed materials, criminals may retrieve them and try to activate the cards for their use without your knowledge. 2 A problem related to identity theft is how hard it can be to detect. For an individual, if someone opens a new account for a loan or a credit card in your name, they can make the address for that account to somewhere where they will get the mail. Then you will never know about it until the bank comes looking for their money.
This will also affect things like your credit score and reputation. It can also be hard for institutions like banks to figure out that identity heft has happened to their customers. For instance, accounts used by identity thieves typically go unpaid and eventually become delinquent. However, institutions cannot always determine whether delinquent accounts are the result of an inability to pay or fraudulent activity”. Many times they just categorize it as something else, like “mistakenly writ[ing] it off as credit losses, causing a serious disconnect between the magnitude of identity theft that innocent consumers experience and the industry’s proper recognition of the crime”. 3 Sometimes, the bank may not even notice until the end of their egular accounting period.
In the 2015 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book from the Federal Trade Commission, we can see what the most common types of fraud that identity theft was linked to. The most common type identity theft reported in 2015 was related to tax or wage related frauds at 45% of all reported cases. Following tax or wage related frauds was credit card fraud at 16%, phone or utilities fraud at 10% and bank fraud at 6%. Other big categories of identity thefts that were reported were loan fraud at 4% and employment-related fraud at 3%. In 2012, according to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, approximately 16. million persons or 7% of all U. S. residents age 16 or older, were victims of one or more incidents of identity theft”.
The most common problems caused by these identity thefts were misuse of bank accounts and credit cards. An unsurprising fact is that “Persons in households with higher annual incomes were more likely to experience identity theft than persons in lower-income households”. It is so hard to detect identity theft that out of all the peoples who had it happened to them “45% discovered the identity theft when a financial institution contacted them about suspicious activity on heir account”.
The info for the theft can be obtained in so many ways that only “About 32% of identity theft victims knew how the offender obtained their information. ” Unlike crimes that can be very personal, identity theft is a very anonymous crime. “Overall, most identity theft victims (91%) in 2012 did not know anything about the identity of the offender”. The characteristics of the victims were equally divided between men and women. In the 2014 report from the Bureau of Justice, the number of Americans that suffered from identity theft increased to 17. million.
The most common problem again was the misuse of ank account or credit card. The majority of people for this year also only noticed that there was a problem when they were contracted by their bank. Most victims still did not know how the criminals got their information or the identity of the criminal. However, this year there were more females than males that were affected. The statistics are showing that identity theft has been getting worse throughout the years.
In the modern age, with social media being so prevalent, it has become easier for criminals to obtain personal information on potential victims. Many facts about us like our birth date or where we live can be asily obtained just through a search on a social media site like Facebook. This is making it easier and easier for them to steal our identity since most security questions online are these facts of personal information. To combat the problem of identity theft, in 1998 Congress passed what is called the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act.
In this piece of legislation, identity theft is defined as “knowingly transfer[ring] or us[ing], without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that onstitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law”. The code then expands into the different ways that the stolen identity can be used. Punishment for violating this law includes fines and imprisonment. Committing identify fraud can also lead to violations of other statutes of law.
It is the type of crime that frequently leads to other crimes. If you use your stolen identity to get a credit card, then they would also be committing credit card fraud (18 U. S. C. A§ 1029). Another thing that you can do with a stolen identity is access computers which you should not have access to. This prohibited by the law protecting against computer fraud (18 U. S. C. AS 1030). Any type of fraud that would have to do with the postal service, also have a separate law for it in 18 U. S. C. A§ 1341.
Fraud by wire transfers or defrauding a financial institution are also governed in 18 U. S. Code § 1343 – Fraud by wire, radio, or television and 18 U. S. Code § 1344 – Bank fraud, respectively. All of these are federal offenses and are felonies that have substantial penalties. In some of these cases, the length of imprisonment can go to as high as 30 years and there are also fines and criminal forfeiture. In my opinion, the biggest issue in dealing with identity theft is how easy it can be and how long it can take for it to be noticed. Most people do not have very reliable security measures to protect their bank accounts or any other accounts.
The security questions for these accounts are often questions that can be easily answered with searches through a person’s history. If someone has access to your information, they can do whatever they want. You will not know about it either, if the mail does not get sent to you. You will only find out if someone notices that something is wrong. Many workers also work with private information, which would make it very easy for them to steal an identity. All it would take is one bad worker for many identities to be stolen.
I think that the laws regarding identity theft are good, but with the way the world is changing and how easy it can be, identity theft will never truly go away. There are many people who were victims and they never knew how or who the people who stole their identities were. I feel that the fact that the person stealing your identity does not really have to interact with you makes it so much more impartial and easier to rationalize. One way for eople to combat identify theft right now is to have better passwords for their online accounts.
They should also get better security questions that cannot be found looking through their internet history and that they can actually remember easily. In the future, I think that the most secure way to protect one’s identity from getting stolen is using biometric verification for everything. Even it would not be perfect, I feel that it is the most secure that we will be able to get. Even though it is too expensive to put biometric scanners on everything right now, hopefully in the future there will be some kind of system.