Many users do not hesitate to upload personal details or credit card numbers when surfing the internet.
However, the bulk of people's perceptions and online interactions will most likely change as a result of this report. Identity fraud is a type of cheating in which criminals take the identity of another person and claim to be that person, normally using personal identification to enter or receive rewards or credit in another person's name (Holtfreter 683).
Online identity fraud is not a modern phenomenon; it is a long-standing crime in which fraudulent people claim to be something they are not.
In most cases, they commit identity theft with the goal of gaining financial, social, or political benefits. In this current generation, identity theft is rampant and has proven to be a prevalent problem affecting society across the globe. Hackers or thieves only need a person's private data (like names, date of birth, location) or social security numbers to steal an identity (Holtfreter 686). On the other side, the legitimate owner of the personality is left struggling to clear their reputation. Consequently, this paper seeks to discuss the issue of identity theft primarily because it is a serious and rampant problem that impacts both the government and innocent civilians alike.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs in the form of a phishing trickery or fraud, where internet users are tricked into submitting their personal information through fake sites. Most of these sites are trusted. An excellent example is a case where a person receives an email which resembles an official mail from the individuals' credit card company or bank; the links attached to the emails normally direct to another site which is designed in a similar appearance resembling legit web pages (Kahn & Jose 131). On the site, users are requested to login details and passwords, or even at times, required to update personal information. These small amounts of information are enough for online criminals to facilitate identity theft. A password to your bank or credit card account gives out access to the money and all the details used to open the account, like official names, social security numbers, date of birth, location, among other details. The obtained information can be used to apply for loans, make online purchases, obtaining fake passports, and so on (Kahn & Jose 137). From a broader perspective, identity theft ruins a person's reputation and finances, of which victims become aware of when it is too late.
The Growth of Identity Theft
With regards to information, communication, and technology (ICT) advancements, identity theft can be described as the fastest growing crime around the world. Accordingly, the theft thrives because of the increased number of internet users (Sullins 81). The offense is fueled by the present-day preferred lifestyles and information sharing processes, for example, online banking, shopping, business transactions, and increased access to social media platforms. All these undertakings only make it easy for criminals to steal identities, as they are vulnerable to giving out personal details which can be maliciously used to access private data and the ultimate consequence, snatching a person's identity. The internet is always unsecured, though it is the easiest and quick bypass to give out personal data. For instance, millennials prefer to pay bills, shop, access their credit card, and undertake business transactions online. These preferences and lifestyle make life easier for users, in fact, they are perceived to be convenient and quick; nonetheless, such only facilitate the crime of identity theft.
Other Forms of Identity Theft
Other forms of identity theft are created through programs, well-known as spyware which is designed to install along with other desired applications, downloaded from the internet. When installed in personal technological devices, the spyware monitors all the user's activities and data, every time a person connects to the internet and submits login details and passwords. The criminals who illegally obtain these data can either sell the data for money or use it to exploit the victim. The most common spyware program is the virus named "Trojan horse", which allows hackers to access personal hard drives remotely (Sullins 85). Marketing agencies also play a significant role in facilitating identity theft. When users shop or make online transactions, the spyware saves both the names and credit care data on their databases. The information is aimed to collect survey data on consumers' spending habits, an undertaking comprehended to be secure. However, with such an amount of data, the weight and access to such content, data handlers in these agencies often fall prey to unethical behavior, mostly accessing or giving out private information for personal gain. They are also vulnerable to bribery, which has been established to sway them out of the company policies mostly.
The present-day society is many internet users give out their personal information via the current generation's preferred lifestyle; quick and convenient online transactions. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy to mention that if your identity has not been stolen yet, there is a high possibility that it might be stolen in the future. Intervention measures and action plans have proven not to be effective, based on the nature of the crime. Technological advancement has made it almost impossible for the government to track or limit the theft identity, primarily because as technology advances so does the identity thieves along with their tactics. The aspect makes it much harder to monitor or prevent the issue. Inherently, considering the reduction of theft identity risks, it is more of a personal initiative, where internet users should be cautious about how they give out their personal data over the internet. Therefore, it is of essence that internet users protect themselves through precautionary measures such as not saving login credentials over the internet, continuously checking their bank and credit card statuses, and if need be correct any mistakes identified immediately. Users should also confiscate old sensitive documents and statements, while being alert of any illegal attempt to acquire personal information over the internet. Adopting such simple habits and awareness can effectively reduce the possibility of a person's identity from being stolen.
In these modern times, identity theft has become a serious and rampant issue affecting millions of innocent victims across the globe. Government measures have proven to be futile, based on the nature of the problem and continued technological advancement. Nonetheless, hackers and criminals have continued to steal people's identities for more than a decade, where most victims are usually innocent and unsuspecting. Increased use of the internet to undertake daily transactions, together with social media, has further facilitated the problem. Moreover, the criminals only require a small amount of data to access vast information about a person. Therefore, as identified, users should be aware of the risk and apply precautionary measures to limit and reduce identity theft prevalence.
Holtfreter, Kristy, et al. "Risky remote purchasing and identity theft victimization among older Internet users." Psychology, Crime & Law 21.7 (2015): 681-698.
Kahn, Charles M., and José M. Liñares-Zegarra. "Identity theft and consumer payment choice: Does security really matter?." Journal of Financial Services Research 50.1 (2016): 121-159.
Sullins, Lauren L. "“Phishing” for a solution: domestic and international approaches to decreasing online identity theft." Computer Crime. Routledge (2017): 73-110.