Essay On Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in both the US and abroad. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that identity theft costs consumers as much as $50 billion annually and that this number will likely keep growing (Finklea, 2010, p. 1). Additionally, the FTC receives in excess 250,000 consumer complaints of identity theft each year and this is believed to be only a fraction of the total number of victims (Finklea, 2010, p. 9). There are several types and methods of identity theft and these methods continue to increase as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated. Understanding the types and methods of identity theft can reduce potential victimization.
Identity theft refers to unlawful activities which specifically compromise another person’s identity. According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), identity theft is an activity “in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.” Such personal data can include names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, bank accounts, credit card numbers, or medical records. Identity theft can also be part of or enable other types of crimes such as bank, credit card, document, employment, or immigration fraud; robbery; and burglary, for example (Finklea, 2010, p. 2). Identity theft exists on a continuum with simple unauthorized credit card charges on one end all the way to having one’s identity completely assumed by another.
The primary use of stolen identities is for credit card fraud which can occur by an offender placing charges on a victim’s existing cards or by opening new accounts in his or her name. A common activity for these fraudsters is to change the billin...

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...edding sensitive documents (DOJ, n.d.). It is also important that people do not open any emails or attachments from parties they do not know, refrain from entering personal information online, and monitor their credit reports regularly to reduce their victimization risk.


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CRS Report for Congress, R40599. Retrieved from
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Lanza, J. (2006, 21 Aug.). Protecting your identity. Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). (n.d.). Fraud: Identity theft and identity fraud. Retrieved from criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html

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