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Rapidly spreading globalization processes all over the world make identity security and protection a vital task for many people. Only in the USA about 9 million people are reported to be victimized by identity theft cases annually (Federal Trade Commission). Identity theft occurs when one’s personal data, e.g. the name and surname, credit card information, etc. are used by third parties in their purposes without permission. Development of new high-tech media and devices allow identity thieves to search new ways of stealing personal data. The aim of this paper is to research the wide variety of identity theft possibilities.
First of all, despite all modern technology and media, old-fashioned stealing is still popular when speaking about getting someone’s personal details (Federal Trade Commission). Thus, thieves may steal wallets and purses, banking mail, credit card statements, new checks, tax information, etc. These cases are easily avoided by increasing awareness in crowded places, leaving all not necessary identifiers out of the wallet, storing social security number and credit card pin-codes in a secure place different from the wallet, renting a post-office mailbox or installing a locked mailbox instead of a usual one (Identity Theft Prevention and Survival 2010).
However, most identity theft cases take place when people are not careful with handling their private information, either identifying or other. Many people are not secure with social networks and other web resources and provide too much personal information. Another way to give out personal data into wrong hands is to throw away important document as usual litter. Criminals look through the litter and garbage in search of documents and copies – bank and credit card statements, credit approval letters, checks, etc. which is called dumpster driving (The United Stated Department of Justice).
Another way to obtain some useful for identity thieves information is called “shoulder surfing”. It may occur in a crowded place where standing close to other people will not look strange. By locating at small distance from a victim, criminals get an opportunity to see or hear and memorize credit card pin-codes and numbers (The United Stated Department of Justice).
Many people nowadays get multiple advertising by mail. Some of it is fraud and is sent out with the purpose to get private information in response. For example, it may be a letter stating that a person is a lottery winner and has to provide his personal and bank details to obtain the prize. Or it may even be a call from a bank representative who wants to check some details and asks to provide them by phone. In both cases people should never give out their personal information by mail or by phone without a serious reason and confirmation of validity of such requests. This popular method is called phishing (Federal Trade Commission). Nowadays a huge share of phishing attempts is made through the Internet (The United Stated Department of Justice).
Skimming is a more technologized way to conduct identity theft as it includes special devices which help to obtain credit card numbers when processing them at ATMs, cash desks, etc. (Federal Trade Commission).
Personal data can be sold and purchased. Criminals sometimes steal or receive for a bribe large amounts of private information from telephone companies, financial institutions. Large databases are sold in whole or by parts afterwards (Federal Trade Commission).
Finally, identity thieves may simply redirect your mail to another location obtaining a constant flow of incoming documents at their disposal (The United Stated Department of Justice).
Identity theft is a serious crime leading to lost jobs, money loss, credit refusals, etc. People need to be educated about the ways to protect themselves from stealing their identity.