Retail & Identity Theft – II

With cyber crimes such as identity theft becoming more and more rampant each passing day, both businesses and their customers have to raise their awareness levels about such crime as this is the single most important way such crimes can be prevented. In this article we explore what do thieves do with a stolen identity and what crimes can be committed through this activity?
Once ID thieves obtain the personal information of consumers what do they do with it? They use it in a variety of fraudulent ways mainly for financial fraud although it is also used for even more dangerous criminal activities. Some of these are:
*Credit card fraud:*

* They may open new credit card accounts in your name. When they use the cards and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent accounts appear on your credit report.
* They may change the billing address on your credit card so that you no longer receive bills, and then run up charges on your account. Because your bills are now sent to a different address, it may be some time before you realize there’s a problem.

*Phone or utilities fraud:*

* They may open a new phone or wireless account in your name, or run up charges on your existing account.
* They may use your name to get utility services like electricity, heating, or cable TV.

*Bank/finance fraud:*

* They may create counterfeit cheques using your name or account number.
* They may open a bank account in your name and write bad cheques.
* They may clone your ATM or debit card and make electronic withdrawals in your name, draining your accounts.
* They may take out a loan in your name.

*Government documents fraud:*

* They may get a driver’s license or official ID card issued in your name but with their picture.
* They may use your name and identity to get government benefits.
* They may file a fraudulent tax return using your information.

*Other fraud:*

* They may get a job using your name and identity.
* They may rent a house or get medical services using your name.
* They may give your personal information to police during an arrest. If they don’t show up for their court date, a warrant for arrest would be issued in your name.

*Criminal activities:*

This type of identity fraud involves taking on someone else’s identity in order to commit a crime, enter a country, get special permits, hide one’s own identity, or commit acts of terrorism. These criminal activities can include:

* Computer and cyber crimes
* Organized crime
* Drug trafficking
* Alien smuggling
* Money laundering

The “Identity Theft Resource Centre”: is one among several organizations which track data breaches and incidents of ID theft in the US. According to the ITRC’s statistics, in 2006 there were more than 315 publicized breaches affecting nearly 20 million individuals. Based on ITRC’s categorization, the breaches break down as follows: 29% government/military agencies; 28% from educational institutions; 22% from general businesses; 13% from health care facilities / companies; and 8% from banking / credit / financial services entities.
This year ITRC has already documented 284 breaches affecting nearly 76 million people. With incidents of ID theft increasing in India, there is an urgent need for tracking these crimes and organizations must come forward to set up resource centers for tracking and monitoring such crimes.