A Thief in the Night – Identity Theft and How it Can Affect Me

Credit cards are now one of the most frequently used mode of payment. The convenience it gives is what lures people into using them. After all, who wouldn’t want the service that it offers; not having to bring too much cash on a shopping day, not needing to withdraw from an ATM machine with a long line, and one of its most convenient services, being able to shop online which does not require you to go out anymore.

As the online service is getting more and more popular, there are a lot of people who want to take advantage due to the fact that the internet does not require enough identification to confirm whether the user is in fact the owner of the credit account being used. This is where the crime of identity theft comes in.

Identity theft happens when thieves get a hold of your personal information enough for them to be able to run your account without anyone else knowing but them. Credit identity thieves often use your credit card or sometimes even cards to buy things for their selves. This often done over the internet but can be done in other ways as well.

Once identity thieves have gotten hold of the information that they need, they will strike at once which is why you, as a credit account owner, needs to take on the responsibility of having a regular self check on your credit account and reports. This way, you will know if your account has been tampered with.

These thieves will eat your money up in no time. Maybe in just a few hours or days, if the identity thief is in a quest to get your money, you will experience bankruptcy not only in one account, but also in the rest of your account that carries the same account name.

Identity theft is something very serious which should be dealt with immediately. Which is why when you feel or think that you are experiencing such theft, you need to first call to inform your credit agencies about the theft which you think is happening or has happened.

In doing this, the companies will stop and cancel all your credit card accounts so that the credit identity thief cannot touch your money anymore. Remember that credit identity thieves will not stop unless they are mandated to do so.

After informing your respective agencies, call some law enforcement back up. This will help them keep track of the movements of the identity thieves which might help them catch these thieves in the future.

The Law And Its Branches

Law is said to be the ultimate science. Law keeps societies functioning and in order. It is one of the most basic social institutions of society and without it society would destroy itself. Laws tell the members and governors of society about the manner in which they must act. These rules are enforced by police forces. Laws can be changed by popular demand or by the government. Lawyers and judges interpret the law and they’re duty is to act as an intermediary between the people and the law.

The law is divided into two main branches. These are – Public Law and Private Law. These two branches can be divided further but the distinction between the branches of private and public law is very small. The branches often overlap and it is only by convention that the branches exist.

The branches of public law are as follows:

1. Criminal Law: deals with crimes. These crimes can range from theft to murder. The laws under this section define the offences, states the rules of arrest, and the possible punishments. In most countries laws are defined by the constitution and the central or federal government. However in some countries like the United States, states have their own laws as well.

2. Constitutional Law: defines the rules and code of conduct for the government and its various departments. It also states the most basic rights of the people. These rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion are guaranteed to all citizens of that country. These rights are upheld by the courts throughout the country.

3. Administrative Law: governs the operations of government agencies. These are the agencies that regulate various aspects of our lives like banking, communications and trade. It also includes social welfare programs, social security and insurance.

4. International Law: This law is meant to make dealings among nations easier. This law is more like protocol and is very hard to enforce.

The branches of private law are as follows:

1. Contract and Commercial Law: These laws deal solely with matters that involve contracts among people. By definition a contract is a legal agreement among persons or people. Contracts are needed in order to carry out daily business. Disputes arising from contracts are dealt with under this section of the law.

2. Tort Law: These laws deal with injuries caused to a person by other individuals or companies. This includes the illegal use of a person’s property such as his or her name.

3. Property Law: As the heading suggests this section deals with the ownership and use of property. This property could anything from a building to a car.

4. Inheritance or Succession Law: These deal with the rights of inheritance of property. These laws are different in all countries.

5. Family Law: These govern the legal aspect of the family, such as the rules of adoption, marriage, divorce and child support.

6. Corporate Law: deals with business and stockholders. This branch is often classed together with contract and commercial law as business law.

Identity Theft – Is it a Crime?

When it comes to identity theft anyone with a social security card is a potential victim. Personal data is obtained and stolen for the primary use of fraudulent activities including economic gain. Canada and the United States have reported funds being withdrawn from bank accounts and credit card advances. Some of the victims have faced the hard reality that someone is posing as them. In most cases the innocent ones are the ones that are tracked down by the law and every attempt is made to prosecute them. When this happens the financial burden is upon the victim to not only clear their name but any false charges that might have been given. Up to 1998 there were no laws on the books concerning this crime. In 1998 Congress stated that identity theft was a federal offense.

The danger in identity theft is that the consumer doesn’t know it until it is too late. It is often times when false applications have been approved and credit has been granted. The “real” person isn’t even aware what has happened. What usually happens is that the theft will send in approved credit card application but give a change of address. So that the invoice or monthly statement of that credit card doesn’t even go to the rightful person. When notice is given it usually is too late to recover the loss or even challenge that it was a fraudulent act. The majority of people end up filing for bankruptcy. Know the facts so you won’t be a victim.

Defining Identity Theft

With modern technology, identity theft has become easier to commit by the minute. Identity theft refers to when someone uses someone else’s personal identifying information such as their name, social security number, checking routing number, or their credit card number, without their consent with the intention to commit fraud or any other crime.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), approximately 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Often times the victim is not aware they are the victim of identity theft until months or years afterwards, when their credit and their reputation have already been damaged.

Identity theft thieves use other people’s identifying information to commit a broad range of crimes. They may use the information to rent an apartment, obtain a credit card or checking account, or establish a cell phone or cable account in the victim’s name. The victim doesn’t usually find out they have been a victim of identity theft until it’s too late, or until they have been contacted by a creditor.

Identity theft begins when the thief acquires personal identifying information such as another person’s social security number, driver’s license number, or credit card. It doesn’t matter if the victim is dead or alive; it’s still a criminal offense and is prosecuted to the full extent of the law when the perpetrator is caught. Personal information can be illegally acquired in a variety of ways including:

Skimming – This occurs when a special devise is used to steal a credit or debit card number when processing the person’s card.

Changing the Victim’s Address – The person changes the victim’s address by mailing in a change of address form. As a result, the billing statements are diverted to another location.

Theft – This is the oldest type of theft in the book. This refers to stealing the victim’s purse, or wallet, pre-approved credit card offers, new checks or other tax information.

Dumpster Diving – This refers to rummaging through someone’s trash to find bills, bank statements, voided checks etc. with identifying information on them.

Phishing – The thieves pretend to be a financial institution such as the victim’s bank, or a credit card company and send spam to try and get the person to reveal their social security number or bank account information etc.

Pretexting – The thief uses false pretenses to obtain personal information from a bank, credit card company, telephone company and other sources.

Identity theft is taking very seriously in all fifty states. In Washington, there are two levels of identity theft. How they are prosecuted depends upon value of the credit, money, goods, or services that were taken. If the value of the goods or services etc. obtained through someone else’s identity were valued more than $1500, it is prosecuted as a Class B felony. For any goods or services obtained below the value of $1500, it is prosecuted as a Class C felony and the penalties range from up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine up to $20,000, or both. If you have been charged with identity theft, it’s critical to enlist the services of an aggressive defense attorney as early as possible. An attorney will be able to investigate every aspect of your case and negotiate with the prosecutor, the judge, or jury on your behalf when it comes to sentencing.

Identity Theft Is A Creation Of Both The Laws Of Nature And Man

The need or the desire to steal another person’s identity was created by both the laws of nature and the laws of man. Identity theft has been with man from the beginning of time. Today, it’s the fastest growing crime in the global community It is the crime of taking and using as one’s own the identity of another person without their consent. It is an intentional deceptive behavior that is designed to deprive the rightful owner of the continuous and uninterrupted enjoyment of his or her identity.

The first recorded report of this theft was found in Genesis 25:27-34 and 27:19-36, and addresses an issue created by the birth of twins. This reporting presents a clear picture of the second-born son desires to have the birthrights and blessings of the first-born son, The report presents a step-by-step procedure taken by the mother and her second-born son, to convince the blind father that he was giving the first-born blessings to his first-born son. The cleverness of the father’s ability to use all of his sensing faculties to make-up for his inability to see was equally impressive. The premeditated steps taken by the mother and her second-born son to counter the father’s cleverness in order to steal the first-born blessings, is an indication of the level of cleverness and determination today’s identity thieves will use to claim the identity of others for their personal usage.

Identity thieves steal identities for different reasons. In all cases the information needed to steal the identity of others, includes but is not limited to, the name, address, phone number, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, medical records, bank account numbers, social security numbers, income information, or other personal information. Records at the drug store usually contains enough information to allow an identity thief to steal someone’s identity. According to the Non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center, identity theft can be subdivided into five categories:

  • Criminal identity theft which is posing as another person when apprehended for a crime.
  • Financial identity theft which is using another’s identity to obtain credit, goods, and/or services.
  • Identity cloning which is using another’s information to assume his or her identity in daily life.
  • Medical identity theft is using another’s identity to obtain medical care and/or drugs.
  • Child identity theft occurs when a minor’s social security number is used by another person for the imposter’s personal gain.

Once the personal identity has been stolen and put into use by a thief, it can takes months to stop the fraudulent use of the information, and it could take years to clean-up a good name and credit report. The good news is that there are ways to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft. One way is to engage the services of a big guard dog, mutilate or destroy all bank statements, credit cards with name address and accounts numbers on it before it becomes trash. Another way is to change passwords and never use the birthdate of a family member. Protecting yourself and your family from the horrors associated with identity theft that was created by the laws of both nature and man is an important job.