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Identity Theft: Criminal Behavior Meets the Information Age

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In our consumer culture/information society, identity is the key to getting credit, which helps with large-ticket purchases such as cars, homes, and a college education. But the free flow of information has made it easier for the seedier side of human nature to show its ugly face, as criminals get sophisticated enough to steal your very person.

Stealing You

There was a time when your name meant everything. In some cultures, your name reflected your lineage: If you were David, John's son, your name was David Johnson. In other cultures, your last name might reflect your occupation (Carpenter, Smith, Mason). As our societies have evolved, names have become a way of identifying who we are.

Enter population explosion.

Today, your name is probably not unique. Even those of us blessed with uncommon names still run the risk of bumping into another John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt—after all, his name is my name, too.

So how do we differentiate ourselves in the Information Age? Identification numbers? If you were born (or work) in the United States, you have a social security number (SSN). This magical nine-digit number serves as a way of uniquely identifying you, so that you get the benefit of your good name, so to speak, when it comes to credit and financial information.

But what happens if that number falls into the wrong hands? With your SSN, someone could falsify other basic forms of identification, and cash in on your good name, your line of credit, your bank account balance, and more. Unfortunately, such identity theft is on the rise.

CAUTION

Disclaimer: The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. The author of this article is not a lawyer, and nothing here should be construed as legal advice. For all questions regarding legal matters, you should consult an attorney, not the World Wide Web.

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