The Fastest Growing Crime – Identity Theft

by tylercook on November 14, 2012

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Identity theft, which involves the wrongful use of personal information, is a growing problem, particularly due to advances in electronic communication. Wrongful identity use can affect the victim’s credit score, cause financial loss, and can even result in the victim’s arrest when the perpetrator uses the stolen identity to commit a crime. Some of the most commonly used documents to commit identity theft are passports, driver’s licenses, banking information, credit cards, and social security cards. This article will discuss some of the many methods criminals use to gain access to another person’s information.

Offline Identity Theft

One of the most common ways identity theft is committed is by retrieving information physically, such as in a person’s trash. Many people discard bank statements, credit card offers, and other information without considering that another person could discover this information and use it to commit fraud. Sometimes these type of documents are stolen directly from the victim’s mailbox. Another method involves physical theft of a wallet, purse, passport, checkbook, or credit card. This form of identity theft is especially common in areas where travelers frequent, such as an airport.

Another way that offline identity theft is committed occurs when the thief physically obtains the information, such as by listening to a phone call, looking over another person’s shoulder during a banking transaction, or by employees who are entrusted to use credit and debit cards during the course of their employment. Sometimes even family members commit this type of crime, using easy access to the victim’s information to steal the victim’s identity.

Online Identity Theft

Identity theft is becoming increasingly more common due to the wealth of information that is available online. Despite protections that website developers put in place, sometimes information can be obtained by hacking into a person’s bank account. Another common method of online identity theft is known as phishing. This is a type of scam in which a fake website mimics another commonly used website in order to get a person to enter personal information. Many Americans are hesitant about making credit card purchases in case the website they are entering information on is not a legitimate website. Use of a public computer creates another type of risk if the last user was logged in and failed to log out before the next person used the computer.

Preventing Identity Theft

To prevent identity theft, keep your personal items secure in a safe place. In areas where you are using public terminals or computers, be aware of anyone who seems to be acting suspiciously. Be sure to destroy any information that is to be thrown away–documents and even credit cards can be shredded before they are discarded. If you discard an old computer, be sure to destroy the hard drive so that personal information cannot be leaked. To prevent mail from being stolen, deliver bills at the post office. If you believe that stolen mail could be a problem in your area, you may wish to invest in a post office box instead of using your home mailbox.

It is important to detect identity theft as soon as possible when it occurs. Be aware of your banking information and make sure that all purchases are legitimate. Also check your credit report regularly to make sure that no fraudulent transactions have occurred. If you find anything questionable, be sure to contact your banking institution or credit card company as soon as possible to resolve the matter.


Jill Harrison knows how important it is to protect your finances and identity. It’s important to speak with a certified bankruptcy lawyer if you are pushed into debt due to identity theft or any other reason.




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