Identity theft is an expression that describes a range of unlawful behaviors involving theft or mishandling of private information. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), identity theft is the use or alleged use of an account or identifying information devoid of the owner’s consent (Baum, 2). According to Collins, identity theft is the unlawful use of another person’s individual identifying information to acquire goods, money, services, property or credit, or to commit a transgression or offense. Individual identifying information refers to an individual’s address, name, telephone number, employee identification number and demand deposit account number, place of work, credit card number, driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, social security number, or savings or checking account number (303).
Identity theft is swiftly becoming the most persistent financial and brutal crime to take place in the history of the United States. Crimes of identity theft destabilize business and the financial system of the whole U.S. and facilitate acts of terror against U.S. citizens. It has direct connections with organized crime, money laundering and drug trafficking. Certainly, identity theft is the crime of the 21st Century but not terrorism (Collins, 303).
The crimes generally linked with identity theft are financial crimes of diverse sorts, check and card fraud and a variety of telemarketing and Internet frauds. They also include thefts or robberies of various kinds where the offender steals identity information by accident or deliberately and theft of autos and auto parts facilitated by fraudulent documentation. It further includes human beings trafficking, terrorism as well as forgery and counterfeiting (Newman & McNally, 13). Collins asserts that most of the identity theft takes place in the place of work, thus making identity theft an extremely costly and serious crime than shrinkage ever was and an particularly egregious form of workplace violence. However, businesses and individuals can prevent identity thefts by protecting four business assets: people, proprietary information, property and processes (305).
According to Newman & McNally, identity theft is a twofold crime, that is, it typically affects two sufferers: the business in which the offender stole its service and the person with whom the offender stole his identity. Nevertheless, in reality, it is not often a norm to treat individuals as sufferers. This is because analysts assert that the individuals would not take eventual accountability for any resulting financial loss (32). Since open markets rely on the very trust that identity theft apparently infringes, it becomes detrimental to them. Since businesses habitually do not report losses ensuing from identity theft associated crimes to law enforcement agencies, there is the temptation to regard such crimes as not actual crimes, but merely a cost of doing business (11). Besides the mishandling itself, victims of identity theft might also encounter problems such as paying higher interest rates as well as clearing up credit card accounts or reports (Baum, 4).
Identity theft can obliterate personal credit and usually initiate very costly proceedings that might take years, or possibly decades, to fully correct. Moreover, computer technology is right at the heart of the problem. Identity theft does not only affect individuals but it also, severely affects the business, which undergoes losses. To eradicate this kind of theft, especially in businesses, the companies should protect significant information and the activities of the business. The relevant authorities should put measures in place that would ensure proper checking and substantial protection of the documents enclosing identity information.