Identity Theft Is a Crime Consisting Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2068 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

Identity theft is a crime consisting in using personal identification information, like name, Social Security number, credit card number, by a person (the perpetrator) without having the owner's permission (the victim), in order to commit fraud or other crimes (credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, bank or finance fraud, government documents fraud, or other fraud). The Federal Trade Commission has estimated that approximately 9 million people in the United States have their identities stolen each year.

Although identity theft is a non-violent crime, it may cause serious damage, loss, stress, job opportunities or loans for education, housing, cars, might be denied. Also, the victims might be arrested for crimes they did not commit. In some cases, the identity theft is so well put together, that the authorities find it very difficult to decide on who is the actual owner of the identity in case.

Identity can be stolen in various ways, even with the victim's involuntary help, because of misusing personal identification information. However, this is purely occasional. Experienced identity thieves use methods like: dumpster diving (identity thieves check the victim's trash, looking for bills and other documents with personal information on them), skimming (it consists in stealing credit or debit card number with a special card processing device), changing the victim's address (by diverting the victim's billing statements to another location), old-fashioned stealing (by simply stealing wallets, purses, or any kind of mail).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Identity Theft Is a Crime Consisting in Assignment

In the U.S. literature, identity theft was first referred to in the 1990s. The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 was enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in order to establish the legal foundation for diminishing, or at least controlling this criminal activity. It also allows the Federal Trade Commission to "track the number of incidents and the dollar value of losses." It was enacted after the Federal Trade Commission emphasized the importance that financial crimes were starting to have. This was the moment when the term "identity theft" started to include other crimes, like money laundering, human beings traffic, stock market manipulation, terrorism, and others.

As mentioned above, identity theft's history began in the late 1990s, when the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998, which identified it as a serious crime. Even more, identity theft is considered by some to be "the crime of the new millennium."

Since its beginning, identity theft has won the "reputation" of being the fastest-growing financial crime, and even the fastest-growing crime of any kind. Each year, the number of identity information illegal use increases alarmingly. In 2003, identity theft was the second most reported crime to the federal government. The largest identity heft case is a New York identity theft ring that involved more than 30,000 victims, spreading over three years. The victims' financial losses covered more than $2.7 million. In 2002, almost 10 million people reported identity thefts, and over the past five years 27.3 million people in the United States suffered from identity theft issues. However, there may be more victims, as these numbers only show the formal complaints that the victims filed at the Federal Trade Commission.

As time passes and technology develops more and more, the methods used by perpetrators in identity theft diversify a great deal, ranging from basic street theft to sophisticated, organized crime schemes that involve computer databases and bribing employees that can access the customers' personal information or personnel records.

Identity theft's recent evolution has determined some to consider it to be "the new way to rob a bank." It seems that this is the most common way to steal money from a bank or from other financial institutions. In 2003, financial institutions' losses caused by identity theft were estimated at $47 billion, compared to $77 million from "traditional" bank robberies.

Given the rapid evolution and diversification of identity theft, the Identity Theft Resource Center has subdivided this crime into four categories: financial identity theft (using another person's name and SSN to obtain goods and services), criminal identity theft (posing as another when apprehended for a crime), identity cloning (using another person's personal information in order to assume the victim's identity in daily life), and business/commercial identity theft (using another person's business name in order to obtain credit).

The era of technology and a world completely depending on computers enabled the fastest development of a crime ever. Internet made it possible for the identity thieves to operate from the comfort of their own homes and to attack victims from all around the world.

Although technology is meant to prevent and solve, if possible, the identity theft and fraud issue, it seems that it rather increases it. In the UK, the government introduced the legislation for national identity cards technology, explaining that this method could combat social issues, like terrorism, crime and illegal immigration. On the other hand, some say that identity cards, chip and pin technology for credit cards will only provoke perpetrators to find other ways, more ingenious, to have their way with stealing other people's identities. This means that technology may have a double impact on the identity theft issue: new technologies help prevent it and fight against it for while, and also, they facilitate identity thieves' job, once they get used to new technologies and learn hoe to use them for their own benefit.

Nowadays, Internet represents an appropriate mean for criminals to obtain identification data, like passwords or even banking information. He most frequently used Internet technology by identity thieves is the spam e-mail, that promises several benefits in exchange of the victim's identification data. "The Internet takes the shadowy form of the identity thief and provides him or her with the shelter of its anonymity, and the speed of its electronic transmissions," according to a National Fraud Center report. Through the Internet, identity thieves can make unlimited transactions, they can have legal or illegal access to all sorts of databases that contain personal information, SSN, and others. In order to prevent identity theft through the Internet, authentication might be the solution. Digital certificates, digital signatures, biometrics (fingerprints or retinas scanning) could help reduce this criminal phenomenon that is expanding along with the Internet's development.

Internet proves to be a very dangerous weapon in the hands of a skilled identity thief. For example, an ID thief in Phoenix that the police arrested in 2006, described how the Internet helped him in his criminal action in a New York Times article: "browsing a government Web site, he pulled up a local divorce document listing the parties' names, addresses and bank account numbers, along with scans of their signature. With a common software program and some check stationary, the document provided all he needed to print check in his victims' names - and it was all made available with some fanfare, by the county recorder's office. The site had thousands of them."

The problem is that banks, in their attempt to extend more credit to more people, require fewer security measures, so that retailers and consumers have an almost anonymous access to credit.

The article also revealed that a very large part of the market for fraudulent Social Security numbers and driver's licenses is consisted of illegal immigrants entering the United States.

Other similar identity theft cases include stealing a person's information (medical license identification, social security number) from a city's Medical Board Web site, and using that information for buying medical supplies on the victim's credit.

One of the most exposed categories is consisted of "young people putting their parents at risk of online fraud and identity theft through their social networking activities, including signing up for new accounts, engaging in IM chat, downloading files, and other activities where personal data can be exposed through spyware."

In addition to this, it is a well-known fact that "terrorism and identity theft go hand in hand, experts say. The Al-Qaida training manual includes provisions for trainees to leave camp with five fake personas (...) Terrorists are regularly schooled in the art of subsisting off credit card fraud while living in the United States."

Also, identity thieves are exploiting weaknesses in specific technologies and information systems. The best example of such an identity theft is the credit card fraud that targets a specific technology, the plastic card and its various attributes (magnetic strip, hologram). The ID thief, using a mix of techniques, alters credit cards hat are either stolen from victims or are counterfeit and that contain all the information from a victim's financial records. Exploitation of credit cards allows identity thieves to convert whatever they steal into cash. In addition to this, check and card fraud provides the insight of information systems that will dispose of goods and services without any serious possibility of the offender getting caught.

Reference List

About Identity Theft (2007). Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved March 20, 2007 at

Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (1998). Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved March 20, 2007 at

Identity theft (2007). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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