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Identity Theft - Essay Example

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Summary
Identity theft is up-and-coming as the most important crime of the 21st century. Identity theft is a term 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…
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Identity Theft

Download file to see previous pages... Criminal identity theft, the most common non-financial type, occurs when someone gives another's personal information to a law enforcement officer when he or she is arrested. In addition to the financial losses resulting from identity theft, the person whose personal information has been used will have an erroneous credit or criminal history that is often expensive and time-consuming to correct. This type of identity fraud involves taking on someone else's identity in order to commit a crime, enter a country, get special permits, hide one's own identity, or commit acts of terrorism. These criminal activities can include Computer and cyber crimes, Organized crime, Drug trafficking, Alien smuggling and money laundering.
The incidences of identity theft augmented drastically beginning in the late 1990s due to the computerization of records and the capacity to use someone else’s personal information incognito over the Internet. This scam has amplified in the last few years. According to a September 2003 survey conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, an estimated 10 million people in the United States found out they were victims of identity theft in the previous year, much higher than the 500,000 to 750,000 victims estimated in 2001. Since all victims do not make the reporting of this fraud, these figures do not disclose the real rigorousness of this offense. Identity theft is likely to cause massive harm to people on individual basis as well as the state economy, darkening the consequences of usual crimes.
It is very easy for criminals to steal identities. No one is immune from this crime. Los Angeles Police Department sergeant Sunil Dutta says, "Technology has simplified most scams. Anyone with a computer, printer, and scanner can falsify personal checks, credit cards, and various forms of identification. Fake ID templates are available on the Internet. Every day, countless credit card offers are mailed to consumers and credit card purchases are processed. Americans can open accounts, deposit money, and spend funds without speaking to a single person. Data that can be entered into a computer or on a telephone keypad are used to identify most customers."2 (Sunil, 2003)
Stealing someone's identity actually requires very little effort. Names and mailing addresses of almost anyone can be found out online by paying a nominal amount. Similarly, for not a very high fee, Social Security numbers and employment information can be purchased on the Internet, all in a matter of a few seconds. The privacy has become endangered primarily due to the prevalence of high-speed computers and decryption software.
The first and foremost reason that identity theft has become widespread these days is the ease with which one can find out Social Security numbers. Social Security numbers are used as identification and account numbers by many entities, in fact, some states put Social Security numbers on their drivers' licenses. Insurance companies, universities, utility companies, banks, brokerages, and even department stores often have records of Social Security numbers, resulting in a glut of places where our Social Security numbers are floating around; any thief can fish for them and use them to start new credit card accounts or apply for loans. In worst-case scenarios, someone may commit a crime in someone else's name and have the law enforcement ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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