Identity theft is a serious crime. Consumers need to understand what identity fraud is and what criminals can do with stolen identities.
According to estimates by the Federal Trade Commission, approximately nine million American citizens have their identities stolen each year. Some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly and easily. Others may have to spend a great deal of time and money clearing their good name and credit record.
Some identity theft victims have been denied job opportunities or needed loans because of their besmirched good name and credit record. As a result of identity theft, some victims have even been accused of crimes they didn’t commit. For just such reasons, it is necessary for consumers to be vigilant and protect themselves from being victimized in such a way.
Definition of Identity Theft
Identity theft is a crime in which someone steals and uses someone else’s personal information and data in a fraudulent manner. The crime can manifest itself in various forms. Identity theft is done mostly for economic gain and personal advantages, such as renting an apartment, securing a credit card, opening a telephone account or any other type of account, and making purchases with the stolen name and personal data.
How Criminals Commit Identity Theft and what they do with the Stolen Identity
Identity fraud is committed when thieves secure personal information, such as financial account information, credit card numbers, and social security numbers. Identify thieves can acquire such information by searching through trash and dumpsters. They can secure such information by stealing purses, wallets, and mail, such as pre-approved credit offers, checks, or tax information. They sometimes divert billing statements by completing a change of address form. They also steal company personnel records.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity thieves secure credit or debit card information by using a special storage device when processing the cards in transactions. This is called skimming. Sometimes they pretend to be financial institutions and send spam that attempts to get the targeted victims to reveal personal or financial information. This is called phishing.
Identity thieves also use false pretenses, such as pretending to be someone representing a research firm, a financial institution, or some other institution in an attempt to get personal or financial information, such as name, address, birth date, and social security information. This is called pretexting. Protesters then sell the information to individuals who could use it to get credit, fraudulently secure assets, or even sue the targeted victim for some trumped-up reason.
Once identity thieves have secured personal information, they can use it to commit credit card or bank fraud. They may use the information to commit phone or other utility fraud. They can also commit government document fraud, such as securing driver’s licenses, social security cards, or filing tax returns with the stolen information. It is possible for them to secure employment using the victim’s social security information or seek medical services using the victim’s name.
Identity theft is an increasingly problematic crime. Consumers should be aware of the seriousness of the crime and how they can easily be victimized by it. You need to update your computers and mobile’s security systems. For tracking and making your smartphones secure, you should intall apps like Spyfone. A relevant quote from Shakespeare’s Othello sums it up appropriately: “But he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him And makes me poor indeed.”