In today’s society, no one is guaranteed safe from having their personal information taken and used by criminals. Identity theft can mean long lasting negative financial consequences for the unfortunate victim which can last for decades. The first part of this series identified various crimes related to identity theft and the signs that a theft has occurred. Part two of the series probed the subject of child identity theft.
This third installment will provide practical prevention suggestions and outline what is being done to combat this illegal activity.
There are three common factors which define identity theft. They are:
Statistics about identity theft have been compiled by many sources from government agencies, news media and law enforcement around the globe. The data collected is used for various purposes including tracking locations and patterns of identity theft. It is also used to formulate strategies to fight against identity theft.
According to most reports, criminals are usually ahead of any attempt that is made to reduce their activity. Unfortunately, identity theft seems to be growing in many locations in the world. As an example, credit cards with microchip technology was introduced in the U.S. in 2015 to make it more difficult for the cards to be counterfeited. While microchips did contribute to some reduction in identity theft, criminals merely focused on another form of theft-new account fraud.
The startling statistics which have been circulating include:
By some accounts, a form of credit misuse occurs every 2 seconds. The reality is that even though this crime affects millions of people each year, the victim whose credit has been ruined or has had personal loans opened in their name feels financially violated and alone. And though no one can accurately state the reasons why identity theft is so prevalent, there is widespread speculation about specific reasons why it has risen to the level it is today.
Opinions vary as to why identity theft and credit card fraud grows by leaps and bounds each year. Although no one dares to lay claim to how and where it started, some researchers offer their take on the reasons why identity theft occurs so frequently. Some of the top views on the reasons for the rise in ID theft are:
There are good reasons to compile statistics and come to a conclusion why the crime is growing in record numbers. But at the same time, each individual can perform at least a portion of due diligence by taking preventative measures to protect their credit.
By far, the majority of adults have given out enough personal information in the course of daily living to potentially expose them to identity theft. Anyone who has applied for and used a credit card, taken out a mortgage, was approved for an auto loan, or performed any normal grown up transaction has had to cough up sensitive information to get approved. That said, there are some preventative measures that may help decrease the risk of victimization.
But criminals who steal identities are not left unchallenged. Technologies and other measures to fight identity theft are also on the rise. Additionally, tighter security measures are being put in place by businesses and other entities to make it harder to breach data or view private personal information. While statistics are being gathered regarding ID theft incidents, research is also being conducted about the way that consumers disclose sensitive information. This could prove to be helpful in educating people how to better protect their credit in the long run.
Numerous studies are conducted which provide insight into the minds of the people who steal identities and commit other such crimes. According to one study, the criminals that were interviewed admitted that they would leave no stone unturned to snatch information any way possible. Some even agreed to share what security technologies proved challenging, and which did not. This type of information is extremely valuable to those who work to stop identity theft in all of its forms.
Increasingly sophisticated technologies such as pin and chip cards that are better equipped to provide some security are always being developed. Credit theft protection systems using biometric identification is also in the works for use by credit card companies and banks. All of these protections have been designed, revamped, and utilized so that identity theft will not ruin the financial lives of hard working consumers.