Common Forms of Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious crime that the U.S. Department of Justice made illegal in 1998. The criminal act consists of an individual illegally obtaining and using another person’s personal data. These cases of fraud and deception are generally used for economic gain, leaving the victim with severe financial damages.

Many people believe they are only at risk of identity theft if an intruder enters their home and physically leaves with confidential personal information. However, some of the most common ways identity theft occurs is outside of the home when the victim is completely unaware of the crime being committed. The three most common forms of this are shoulder surfing, dumpster diving, and Internet fraud.

Shoulder surfing occurs when the criminal obtains personal information from a person while actively watching or monitoring their activities. This could include listening while the victim relays their credit card information out loud over the phone or in person. They could also watch as you write down or type in personal information without you knowing. Key information that most identity thieves look for are social security numbers, bank and credit card account numbers, and telephone numbers.

Dumpster diving is another popular and long-used method of acquiring data about another individual. Often times credit card statements or junk mail containing personal information are improperly discarded. Identity thieves can then go through discarded items to gather this disclosed information.

The increased number in quick-pay methods, applications, and internet accessibility is increasing the frequency of identity theft. The internet is a massive warehouse of personal information that is not often as secure as we would hope. Through fraudulent activity such as spam or phishing viruses, it is often too easy to obtain other people’s information.

Just about any Columbia criminal lawyer is aware that common Internet data a identity thief will be accused of snatching include:

  • Wire receipts
  • Social media site messages
  • Copies of emails
  • Login information
  • Access to personal website pages

Conviction of identity theft is a serious crime and can lead to massive consequences such as jail time and substantial fines. If you are charged with identity theft, call a criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss your legal options.

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