Introduction: Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes statistically according to the Federal Trade Commission. Roughly 27. 3 million Americans have fallen victim to this form of theft/fraud. According to last year the loss of money for businesses and financial institutions are in the billions and with consumers out of pocket expenses has been about 5 billion dollars. “Identity theft” refers to crimes in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data (i. e. name, date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, and your financial identity— credit card, bank account and phone-card numbers) in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain (to obtain money or goods/services). There are a few ways that people are able to obtain such information and some of the ways you will find that it is out of your control if you do not protect yourself. A few of the forms in which predators are able to easily extract your information and use it while damaging your life and credit.
Some are done from people internally stealing business records of their personal information. Other means from what they call shoulder surfing. This is an easy way where someone is standing behind you at your desk while you are trying to visit a site that is personal. They are able to look at your keyboard and remember your login and passwords. Another big one would be dumpster diving. People do not realize that just by simply not shredding your personal information and just tossing it in the garbage people will go through your garbage to collect information about yourself.
Once your trash can is at the end of your driveway this is now considered public property. Another means is to deceive the victim through the means of posing as someone else to obtain information such as a landlord or even posing as an employer trying to get your personal information. Another one would be from what they call skimming. This is done by stealing your credit card or debit card information as they swipe your card. The old fashion forms of information stealing would be stealing wallets and purses which your personal information. Another would be to steal your mail which may include.
A person needs to always be aware of who they provide their information to. Try to be put on list to stop receiving pre screening of credit card offers. When traveling need to learn ways to safe guard your wallets, and try not to look like a tourist, as those make easy targets. There are three credit reporting agencies that are used to track personal credit such as Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. In the event of that you think that someone has possibly stolen your identity then there are a few places that one would need to do in order to try to put a stop to the personal theft.
Since the overwhelming amount of fraud/ identity there was in the past nothing that could really stop someone from this form of theft, so now there is something in place should a person fall victim the fraudster can now be prosecuted and do some time in jail. Online Fraud and Identity Theft Definitions: In this day and age, along with the amazing speed of growth in technology, predators from the old days where everything was done to collect your information manually by either reading your garbage or stealing your mail has come to the point where that is considered old fashion.
The new high tech way is to do it all online. No need to sift through your garbage. No need to pick pocket your wallet. This is no longer a confrontational thing. Do not get me wrong the old fashion way is used frequently but online makes it easier for a hacker or thief to collect your data and abuse it to no end until they are unable to collect any more goods off of you social security number. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes statistically by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
Identity theft is or occurs when someone with out your knowledge, acquires a piece of personal information and uses it to commit fraud. With as little as a stolen name, date of birth, and social security number, the identity thief is able to cause major damage. Fraud is a broad strokes definition; fraud is a deliberate misrepresentation which causes another person to suffer damages, usually monetary losses. Most people consider the act of lying to be fraudulent, but in a legal sense lying is only one small element of actual fraud.
A salesman may lie about his name, eye color, place of birth and family, but as long as he remains truthful about the product he sells, he will not be found guilty of fraud. There must be a deliberate misrepresentation of the product’s condition and actual monetary damages must occur. Online fraud is costing about 2. 6 billion dollars a year and continues to grow at a rate of 700 million dollars a year. High fraud rates continue to plague electronic commerce Web sites, with criminals expected to steal $2. billion from online merchants this year, according to a new survey. While that’s an annual increase of $700 million, the percent increase is roughly equal to the increase in total Net sales, so rates of fraud stayed essentially the same — about 2 percent of sales — according to the survey, conducted by CyberSource Corp. As Shakespeare wrote “But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which not enriches him/And makes me poor indeed. ” – Shakespeare, Othello, act iii. Sc. 3. The short answer is that identity theft is a crime.
Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. How you become a Victim: There are several ways that one can fall victim to online fraud and identity theft. Thieves are more than likely steal your information from either, dumpster diving, skimming, phishing, changing your address, the old fashioned way of stealing your wallet or purse. Dumpster diving is one of the most common but old fashioned ways of stealing someone identity to commit fraud.
They rummage through you garbage trying to locate anything that has your personal information such as maybe a phone bill that has your name. Then maybe some forms that was filled out but never shredded that had your social security information on it. Skimming is another way to steal ones information. Thieves will use special devices that when running a transaction on your credit or debit card the machine will gather all the necessary information for the thief to make online purchases with your card. Another way is phishing. This is more like social engineering.
This is where someone may call you and pretending to be someone else to try to get some personal information from you. Also they may even send it in a form of an e mail that may have malicious or ask questions to try to get you to give up your personal identity. Changing your address is another way for these would be thieves will divert your mail to try to get personal information about you as well. This is easy to do as all you have to do is get a form from your local post office. Fill it out and drop it off no questions asked.
Old fashioned stealing is that they steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access. Lastly pretexting, Pretexters use a variety of tactics to get your personal information. For example, a pretexter may call, claim he’s from a research firm, and ask you for your name, address, birth date, and social security number. When the pretexter has the information he wants, he uses it to call your financial institution.
He pretends to be you or someone with authorized access to your account. He might claim that he’s forgotten his checkbook and needs information about his account. In this way, the pretexter may be able to obtain other personal information about you such as your bank and credit card account numbers, information in your credit report, and the existence and size of your savings and investment portfolios. Avoid Being a Victim: To reduce the risk of online fraud related to identity theft. A person needs to remember one word and that is the word SCAM. Stingy, Check, Ask, and Maintain. This starts with being at home.
Where you need to adopt the “need to know basis”. Your bank or institute that you have your credit card through requires that you have a question that is secret for your account for instance what your mothers maiden name is. This is needed to access your account. Should someone call you and try to get information with out asking that question then it may than likely be someone else posing as your financial institution. If someone calls you at home that is offering a free trip or trying to get you to sign up for a credit card then it is a scam. Advise that you are not interested and hang up the phone.
When traveling always has your mail stopped at the post office until you return. Always check your financial information regularly. Check your monthly statements to ensure accuracy. Some people just glance at their monthly statements and toss them a side. You need to look at them closely to ensure that there are no fraudulent charges on your card or cards. This is one of the quickest ways to discover if someone has stolen your information. Ask!. Always ask periodically for your credit report. This lists all accounts and financial institutions are under name. This is another sure fire way to determine if someone has stolen your identity.
Maintain all records of your financial institutions. Even though banks may have copies of old checks it is best to ensure you also have a copy of a check in the form of a carbon copy. Always remember that most identity is committed by someone who you know or is very close to you. Fifty-three percent of identity theft victims last year reported their identity stolen by a friend, a relative, an employee, or an acquaintance. Financial companies that house a person credit information including a persons fico score is all listed under 3 companies. Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.
Even though they may be three different companies they should have roughly the same information. If anything looks out of the ordinary then it is best to call them to correct the error. Lastly it may be wise these days to try another avenue to protect against identity theft. There are new innovative ways that are coming out where companies are now monitoring your information. Should someone try to purchase something in your name or tries to commit any type of fraud then companies like Life Lock (www. lifelock. com) and Trusted ID ( www. trustedid. com) will notify you if they notice anything that appears to be fraud.
What you should Do if you Fall Victim: What should you do should if you should find something that should either not be on you credit card or bank statements? Or your credit report appears to have information that is not related to you? First thing you should do is: Contact the fraud department of any of the three major credit bureaus to have an alert placed on your credit report. Also have a victims statement placed on your account so that they call you before they allow any new accounts created on your behalf. Try using an Identity Victim Fraud Worksheet. (http://www. ou. edu/oupd/idtheft-worksheet. pdf).
Call all your financial institutions to have all accounts closed and all checks stopped. Call your local post office just in case someone may have also redirected your mail. Notify your social security agency and advise that your number is being used fraudulently. Call the IRS to advise them as well that someone is using your information and it may impact your taxes. Should you be a victim of fraud that is involving high dollar amounts then it may also be best to contact your secret service. Lastly it is best to contact your local police department. Ensure to try and furnish as much information as you can to them.
Such items: copies of debt collection letters, credit reports, your notarized Identity Theft Affidavit, and other evidence of fraudulent activity can help the police file a complete report. (Keep originals for your own files; you may need more copies. ) Lastly file a complaint with the FTC. Using the FTC complaint form (https://rn. ftc. gov/pls/dod/widtpubl$. startup? Z_ORG_CODE=PU03). Government Intervention: The government has since 1997 tried to enforce such illegal acts by a bill that was created called: Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1997 (Introduced in Senate).
This bill makes it so that if anyone who commits a crime of fraud or identity theft. The thief can be punished by jail time of not more than 15 years. Also they may be ordered to pay restitution for damages that were inflicted by the thief as well. Even though you can do everything in your power to try to stop identity theft, there will always be someone out there who works for a huge company that has your information or has access to your information. Example Case 1: In one case in 2002 the USA announced maybe one of the biggest rings of identity theft and fraud.
A man by the name of Phillip Cummings worked for a small company called TCI. This company had key information to be able to pull peoples credit reports. Cummings was selling this information to a couple individuals. He would get them the reports for 60 dollars a report. This information had listed peoples names, addresses, social security information. As alleged in the Complaint, the number of victims in this case exceed 30,000, and the Government is in the process of determining the extent of the loss. To date, more than $2. 7 million in financial loss has been confirmed.
If convicted, CUMMINGS faces, with respect to the wire fraud charge, a maximum term of 30 years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1 million or twice the pecuniary gain or loss resulting from the offense. CUMMINGS faces, with respect to the conspiracy charge, a maximum term of 5 years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the crime. Example Case 2: The next case shows how a woman from Kirkland Washington who was charged with identity theft. The woman used the information of an 87-year-old retired ophthalmologist in Minot, N.
D. , to help her lease a 2001 Mercedes-Benz SL500, for a co-defendant. She then tried to have witnesses assaulted to try to prevent them witnesses in testifying against her in court. Coan pleaded guilty and it was recommended for Coan to be sentenced to prison for seven years. http://www. ou. edu/oupd/idtheft. htm http://www. usdoj. gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft. html http://101-identitytheft. com/idtheft. htm http://www. wisegeek. com/what-is-fraud. htm http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/6463545/ http://www. usdoj. gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft. html http://www. ftc. ov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/about-identity-theft. html http://www. ftc. gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/about-identity-theft. html http://www. ftc. gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/pretexting. html http://www. usdoj. gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft. html#whatshouldido http://seniorjournal. com/NEWS/Alerts/6-07-26-MostIdentityTheft. htm http://www. ou. edu/oupd/idtheft2. htm#VICTIM http://thomas. loc. gov/cgi-bin/query/D? c105:1:. /temp/~c105vYBX2r:: http://www. usdoj. gov/criminal/cybercrime/cummingsIndict. htm http://seattlepi. nwsource. om/local/228750_idtheft16. html CONCLUSION: As we sit here and think about all things that happen to other people we always say to ourselves that this could never happen to me. When in fact, if you have never checked your credit report then you may be already a victim and not even know it. As we read about how easily it is on how criminals can obtain your personal information just by going through your garbage that you set out by the road, which is public property to just reaching into your mailbox to pull out your mail and read it and be able to collect enough information to turn your world upside down.
We all have got to understand the seriousness of this problem. We need to more protective on how much data we give out to people. It makes it quite difficult these days as it seems anywhere you go, whether it is the pharmacy, to the bank, even to online shopping. Someone needs your personal information; I always try to stay away from people who ask for personal information about my credit or debit cards. Especially if they ask for the 3 digit pin on the back of the card. Why they absolutely need that when so many vendors out there do not require it?
I say no thanks and look for the same product out there from another vendor that does not require that same information. You may end up spending a few extra dollars but you are probably safer though. Another thing to remember is that, if someone calls saying they are someone from a credit card company, or a pharmacist, or anything of that nature. Beware that these are again fake. Most financial institutions now have secret questions attached to your account that should be validated before just giving away your information to them.
When traveling remember to stop your mail at the post office, as this will stop people from snooping through your mailbox when you are away. Should you fall victim to fraud or identity theft. Then it is very important to always cancel all checks, credit cards. Remember to call the police and file a report immediately. Most financial institutions will not even accept your claim without a police record or incident report. Always remember to contact all 3 credit agencies to put a fraud alert on your accounts and ask them to call you should a new account get opened. You can do the same with your postal service, IRS, and social security office.
Should you follow some of these simples things then you are far better protected then someone who does not bother to check their credit reports annually. Do not forget, most fraud is committed by the people who know you best. This could be from your best friend of twenty years to even a very close relative. When someone knows you then it is easier to collect personal information then someone who has to spend time getting to you know and understanding your patterns to be able to collect any information. Even though the government may have put into place the identity theft and assumption act.
It will put criminals behind bars should they get caught. In the end though you are still suffering as it takes thousands of your hard earned money along with a lot of your own time to be able to try and get these bad marks on your credit report removed. Some may never get removed hurting your credit and your ability to obtain a good rate when trying to make a purchase such as a car or even a home. As we get older we become more of a target. We then being to become more disconnected from the digital technology, as people are able to collect our personal information as it is being sold online just like a black market.
It is easy for anyone to get some information and call you to trick you that they are from Medicaid, or some other RX prescription provider looking for additional personal information. Try to keep in mind that this is a scam. Elderly are always worried that they will lose their medical if they do not get forms in on time so it makes it quite easy for seniors to fall prey to these online criminals. So watch yourself and again always check your credit report often. Works Cited: United States Department of Justive, “Identity Theft. ” Identity Theft 11. 2 April 2008 . Hamilton, Richard. “ID Theft. ” Has some clown taken over your good name? 130 October 2007 7. 22 April 2008 . SENIOR JOURNAL. COM, “Senior Citizen Alerts. ” Most Identity Theft Committed by Someone You Know 126 July 2006 1. 22 April 2008 . Sullivan, Bob. “Online fraud costs $2. 6 billion this year. ” Survey: Some merchants losing battle against crime 111 Novermber 2004 1. 22 April 2008 . 101 Identity Theft, “What is Identity Theft. ” 1. 22 April 2008 . Pollick , Michael. “What is Fraud?. ” What is Fraud? 11. 22 April 2008 . http://www. lifelock. om/default. aspx? promocode=Shareasale=254355 https://rn. ftc. gov/pls/dod/wsolcq$. startup BBB Online, “New Research Shows Identity Fraud Growth Is Contained . ” 131 January 2006 1. 22 April 2008 . 105th CONGRESS, 1st Sessions 21 March 1997 1. 22 April 2008 . U. S. Department of Justice, “U. S. Announces What Is Believed The Largest Identity Theft Case In American History; Losses Are In The Millions. ” 25 November 2002 1. 22 April 2008 . SEATTLE POST, INTELLIGENCER STAFF. “Mortgage broker guilty in identity theft case. ” 16 June 2005 1. 22 April 2008 .