Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a place where it was safe to leave the doors unlocked, to walk down the street alone, or to trust everyone that enters your house? These days personal information can be found in a person’s car, purse, or home; and can even be stolen by the least expected person. While there are preventative measures that can be taken, identity theft is a serious crime that is conducted in many ways and has caused large amounts of damage for many individuals.
Many people welcome family and friends into their home and never consider the possibility that they would steal person information. The truth is, the closer someone is to ...view middle of the document...
Identities can also be stolen for legal or medical purposes. For example, a thief can use someone else’s identity after being pulled over for a traffic violation so that the victim’s driving record is the one to take the hit. Or a thief could use the victim’s identity to receive medical treatment covered by his or her insurance. According to the annual victimization study conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center in 2008, credit card fraud accounted for 39% of reported identity theft, check fraud accounted for 17% of all victims, and 33% accounted for loans obtained in the victim’s name. (ITRC Study, 2009) Sometimes, money is not the objective. Criminals may commit identity fraud to hide their own identity to commit acts of terrorism; terrorists obtain false visas and passports to avoid being traced after committing terrorist acts. Personal information has also been stolen and used to forge military identification cards. The criminal may also assume another’s name to cover up past crimes and avoid capture over many years. Other reasons to steal one’s identity may include human trafficking, committing felonies, and creating passports.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are three main ways thieves steal personal information: mail fraud, dumpster diving, and stealing wallets or purses. (Identity Theft, 2008) Junk mail is disregarded by many people; however, thieves will dig through trash seeking out junk mail such as pre-approved credit cards, existing bills, bank statements, and much more. People throw away information all the time that can provide valuable information to a thief. Some thieves will steal information directly from wallets, purses, or home burglaries. Mail fraud has been reported by approximately 400,000 people a year. (Identity Theft, 2008) This includes stealing arriving mail, outgoing mail, or even forwarding mail to another address. Criminals may steal mail that includes bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks, and tax information. The internet has become a large contributor to identity theft as well. Criminals pose as legitimate companies asking for personal contact information or credit card information. This same process has been known to happen by telephone as well. Computer hackers can steal records from a personal computer or even directly from a company. Criminal can also obtain information from businesses or other institutions by stealing records or information while on the job, bribing an employee who has access to the records, hacking the records, and conning employees.
While identity theft is a serious concern, there are ways to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. The first tip to remember is to be extremely cautious about giving out any personal information. It is important to guard personal data. For example, a credit card company may need to know your mother’s maiden name for security purposes; a stranger does not need to know this information. If personal...