Defining the Insidious Crime of Identity Theft It was already late at night and you were walking down the street alone. The wind is blowing briskly through the tall buildings you are passing by. Then, a person appears, out of nowhere. He/she proceeded to run by you and knocking you over, made a grab for your wallet and disappeared through a corner. It could be a scene from a movie, only it happened! However, this type of stealing, person-to-person, may well exists in movies exclusively for the next years to come. Why, you may ask. Nowadays, thieves no longer care to rob a person, bank or any other establishment because they just use an individual’s information to obtain employment, credit and bank accounts and other means of obtaining money or credit Such activity that has now alarmingly reached millions of victims in United States and Canada is known as Identity theft. It has shown up in news reports for the past several years. Campaigns and laws have been passed all to combat it and build up public awareness. Last September 2003, the FTC reported that identity theft victims suffer terribly from the said crime. They spend more than $1,400.00, and 200 hours to clear up their personal and financial reputation. Once identity theft crime becomes more flagrant, victims may have to spend more than this, and not only in terms of time and money. They may end up spending more in terms of frustration. If you do not have money to spend, or rather, waste just to pay for being a victim of identity theft, then you must know the exact definitions of identity theft, how it works and how you can become a victim. By knowing and defining identity theft to other people, too, they will come up with more ways to combat against it. Identity theft or ID theft this insidious crime of obtaining and using another individual’s personal data. By personal data it means, the name, address, telephone number, phone card or credit card and Social security number. This act is done without the knowledge of the victim and is usually followed by a criminal act. The criminal acts of an identity thief may range from committing financial fraud using the personal information. Indeed, identity theft is done by someone, pretending to be another and purchases products using that person’s credit account, obtaining money from bank accounts and ordering goods and services using another’s credit name. The victim of identity theft is usually left with the bill for the purchased/ordered goods and services. Sometimes, victims are surprised when they find out that they are application for loans were denied because without their knowledge, they have accumulated too many loans because of the handiwork of an identity thief. Stealing people’s identity is a serious crime. The frauds and deceptions being done using another individual’s identity is another unlawful act. Once identity thieves steal other people's identity they usually do the following: - make purchases or order goods without the intention to pay - apply for credit - open bank accounts - apply for loans - apply for government benefits - obtain cable or utility services using the another person’s (victim) name - forge checks or bank drafts - use victim’s accounts to obtain money through wire transfers using the victim's accounts - and other similar acts of fraud. Individuals are not the only targets of identity theft. They also target business establishments, especially those medium and small limited businesses. Businesses can also be the targets of identity theft. Corporate identity theft happens when an individual applies for credit or buys goods under the pretense of being a company director of a certain company. Beforehand, they con the government agencies concerned with registering business companies. They file for change of names and address. They use the said address to direct suppliers of goods they bought, when the bill arrives, they have long disappeared. The company, then suffer the brunt of such criminal acts. Aside from people with good and well-established credit reports, identity theft also victimizes those without much credit. Sometimes they stead college students’ identities to set up fake credit accounts. Presently, many efforts are being done in order that people be aware of identity theft. There are also federal laws passed that already define identity theft as a serious criminal act instead of just a fraudulent activity. This is a big step in the fight against rampant identity theft. Individuals must be proactive so as not to become a victim of identity theft. We must be doubly sure that all our personal documents and information are protected and are not passed on into wrong hands. Avoid being a victim of identity theft, beware and be cautious! s!