The Identity Theft

It is evident that each day the number of the Internet users is increasing. The Internet is a reliable, fast, and efficient mean of communication and interaction. The fact that consumers can shop online overseas is amazing. It is through this reliability that people have become highly dependent on the World Wide Web. Individuals establish their emails through names, addresses, and photos. Some people go all the way to give their bank details in websites, trusting that the sites are safe with the passwords. The security established in the sites, however, has got loopholes that identity thieves use to obtain information. The issue of identity theft occurs everywhere in the world. The research paper will study the issue of the identity theft, focusing on its impacts on individuals and businesses.

According to William (2004), about nine million people in America face identity theft each year. Identity theft occurs when personal information is obtained and used without person’s knowledge. In many cases, personal information is obtained to commit a fraud. The information obtained could be a name, a credit card number, or social security number. Identity theft may go on for some time before a victim realizes what is happening. In most cases, a victim notices the fact of a theft after incurring charges that he or she is unaware of. Identity theft has got negative impact on victims and organizations. Some victims end up incurring a lot of costs, trying to solve the issue. There is also the damage of a person’s credibility, particularly in financial institutions.

Apart from wasting time while trying to investigate the theft, a victim is likely to miss out on loan applications, as a result of bad information. There have been cases when victims have been arrested wrongfully. Fraudsters obtain information in various ways; in the past, identity theft was carried out through collecting information from old bills in the bins. Some years ago, stolen wallets were a good source of information. Some fraudsters are known to have got a person’s information by bribing staff from financial institutions. Bank statements are also a guide for the fraudsters. There are thieves who go all the way in changing an individual’s address just to obtain information from the mails received.

Information technology has played a significant part in enhancing identity theft. Skimming is a common technology that fraudsters use to obtain information. In this case, a device is used to capture information from credit cards. Usually the device is placed in Automated teller machines; information captured is used by fraudsters to obtain finances. The identity thieves are known to use Trojan applications. The Trojan is known to have cleaned out a Swedish bank for $1.1 million in a period of three months. With the increased use of emails and social sites, fraudsters engage victims through messages; the victims are tempted to give their personal details, this, in turn, leads to identity theft.

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In this era of e-business, fraudsters establish nonexistent companies, a user who shares personal information with these companies ends up a victim of the identity theft. This is known as phishing. According to a report of 2006, phishing had led to 55% increase in losses.

The Internet creates a favorable environment for the identity thieves. For instance, there are cases when websites sell social security numbers. There are also thieves, who obtain information through calling companies in pretentious contexts. The thieves use the stolen information in various ways. The thieves, for instance, may obtain a credit card, spend on them and not pay for the expenses. Identity thieves usually change a person’s addresses to prevent the victim from obtaining bills. In this case, a victim is likely to take some time before realizing the theft.

Information obtained could also be used to acquire utility bills; this could be water, electricity, or gas. Stolen information may also be used to obtain driving licenses, medical services, and tax returns, and even benefits from the government. In any case, the victims of identity theft realize the issue when they get unpaid bills they are unaware of. The identity thieves are always on toes to establish new ways of obtaining people’s information. Although information technology has made it easier for identity thieves, people are being warned to be extra careful when using emails and websites (Daniel, 2002). Every person is advised not to reply to email messages that ask for personal information.

Advertisements in websites should be handled carefully to avoid accessibility of personal information. It is advisable for people to avoid sending personal information through emails, unless the mail agent is fully protected. In cases when bank statements delay, a person should be quick to confirm the information with the respective bank. A person can avoid technological identity theft through the use of the antivirus software. With the increase of technological theft, people are advised to be careful when downloading items, as well as opening attachments.

An individual or company suffers a great deal as a result of the identity theft. An organization is likely to lose crucial information, thus, experience interfering with its credibility. A victim of identity theft, as a rule, is left helpless and devastated. Moreover, the law does not offer a solution. A victim is made to pay huge bills, loosing lifetime savings and even their homes and property. As much as a consumer suffers financial loss, an organization also suffers serious inconveniences. In case of a small organization, the situation is even worse, since the companies cannot overcome such hardships and end up closing.

An organization can prevent identity theft by acquiring the third party assistance. This could be achieved through acquiring a security firm that will monitor the privacy policy of certain company. Individuals are advised not to store important information in workplaces, laptops, and flash drives. Individuals and organizations should uphold ethics when storing personal information. A person is advised to store information in servers, avoid sharing passwords, and lock computers when inactive. (Robinson, 1999).

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