Identity Theft in America

May 15, 2012
By Spankylovesu BRONZE, Grove, Oklahoma
Spankylovesu BRONZE, Grove, Oklahoma
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Identity theft is a common crime in America. As many as ten million people a year are victimized by identity thieves. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social security number, or credit card number without your permission. It is very wrong of a person to steal someone’s identity, yet it happens all the time to people you know, or see surrounding you. It could be happening to you at this very moment. Many people discover it soon and can resolve the problem quickly, but some others have more difficulty and pay hundreds of dollars. There have even been times where a person is arrested for something they didn’t do, but another did using the person’s identity.

There are many ways a person’s identity can be stolen. Some of the many ways are dumpster diving, skimming, phishing, changing your address, old-fashioned stealing, and pretexting.

Dumpster diving is exactly what it sounds like: someone digging through a dumpster, in the trash that people have thrown out of their homes, to retrieve information. They use your bills, and other resources with your information on it to steal your identity.

Skimming is when they steal your credit and debit card numbers by using a special device when processing your card. This could happen at restaurants when the waiter takes your card to the back; an ATM could be specially rigged to skim your information; grocery stores can also steal your information when you swipe your card.

Phishing is when the thief pretends to be a financial institution or company and sends pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information. This could happen on e-mails when you think it is a store you have purchased an item from. Another case is when you go to a website and it is a false website, not the actual one. Then you will be giving your information to a false one without knowing it.

By changing your address, the thief changes the original mailing address to the address that will be easy for them to obtain your information instead of taking it directly out of your mailbox or from the dumpster.

Old-fashioned stealing is when they take your purses and wallets; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal your personnel records, or bribe employees who have access.

Pretexting is when they use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from your financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources.

In order to prevent yourself from being a victim of identity theft, there are many actions you may take. To prevent the thief from getting your information from the dumpster, shredding your information after you are done with it will eliminate the risk. Skimming can easily be avoided by not having any credit or debit cards. With America today, though, this is not likely, so instead, pay at the register whenever possible. ATM’s indoors are the best way to avoid skimmers. Phishing can be avoided by closing the e-mail and just calling the company. Never give your information over the phone unless you have made the call to the company, not them to you. To avoid old-fashioned stealing, simply keep your things locked and always in a position that they won’t be pick-pocketed or stolen out of a storage unit. To avoid pretexting, a tracphone would disable their ploys to steal cell phone information. Also, use your own passwords, not the ones the company gave you. The three D’s is a very useful strategy. Deter identity thefts by safeguarding your information. Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements. Defend against identity theft as soon as you suspect a problem.

Identity theft is a very serious business to many people across the United States of America. Whether it is serious to them because they are the thief or the victim, it is not a joke and will not be taken lightly. It is a federal offense, and violators will be prosecuted. Although some thieves are criminal masterminds, the victim eventually discovers the issue. What propels a thief into action? How do they choose their target? Why do they belief they can just take someone’s identity and get away with it? The punishment for identity thieves is that they will receive a mandatory five years of prison. I personally believe that the theft should have to pay the victim back all the expenses in cash, do community service for two years, and still have the five-year term of prison. Although the person could have avoided being a victim, they weren’t the ones who actually stole the identity. It is wrong of people to steal other’s identity just because it was easy, or even because their life depended on it. In the process, they are ruining their life and the life or lives of the people of which they are stealing from. Identity theft is a crime in America, and should be considered a crime all throughout the world. The real question is, are you going to let yourself be a victim of it, or are you going to stand up for yourself?

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