What Is Identity Theft?

The concept of identity theft has attracted immense attention in recent times, particularly given the significant negative effects that it has on the economic and social health of any society. In a nutshell, it involves the deliberate and unauthorized utilization of another person’s identity to gain a financial advantage to the detriment of the other person(Machajewski, 2017). This essay is going to analyze identity theft to shed light on why it is such a problem in society, and how it can be solved.

It is worth noting that there are various ways in which identity theft takes place. In most cases, the culprit would have access to the personal or financial information of another person including the driver’s license, social security number, and birth certificate among others (Machajewski, 2017). The identity thief would then use this information to create credit accounts, through which he or she would apply for and take loans, , purchase merchandise, or pay for services at the expense of the victim (Mcnair& Williams, 2017).

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This means that the financial transactions would be carried out in the name of the fall guy despite them not having authorized or taken part in the business.
There are various reasons why identity theft is a major problem, not only to the victim but the society as a whole. Key among them is the financial ramifications of the crime, mainly to the victim. Indeed, identity theft is often seen as synonymous to financial fraud given that identity thieves often target an individual’s credit.

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The financial fraud may result in the target having enormous amounts of dollars in debt accrued in their name and without their consent or knowledge (Machajewski, 2017). This could ruin the casualty’s credit rating and cause him or her to be denied employment, mortgages, loans, or even bank accounts.

On the same note, casualties of identity theft could face criminal charges. This is chiefly predicated on what the criminal did with the stolen identity. In most cases, identity thieves use the stolen identity to commit financial fraud against other people or entities (Mcnair& Williams, 2017). The victim would have to prove that he or she was unaware of the financial improprieties carried out in their name. The potential for being implicated in crimes that they know nothing about underlines the seriousness of the offense.

Combating identity theft often necessitates that the sufferer identifies the type of crime with which he is dealing. Key among the different types of identity theft is financial identity theft, where the culprit accesses the victim’s bank account and makes financial transactions with the same. In addition, there is insurance identity theft and medical identity theft, which occurs when the offenders obtain unauthorized identity information and use it to access the victim’s insurance, and attain medical treatment without the latter’s knowledge. Criminal identity theft, on the other hand, comes up when individuals commit crimes under other people’s names. In some cases, the perpetrators use fraudulent identity cards with the casualty’s personal details to evade the law. In the case of tax identity theft, the person responsible would provide fake tax refund claims to the IRS with false or stolen personal information including the name and Social Security Number, which results in delays in the capacity of the victim to obtain legitimate tax refunds.

Social Security Identity theft, on the other hand, involves stealing the social security number and selling the same to other entities, especially undocumented individuals, or even using the same to access services, opportunities, steal money and properties that are only available to holders of the unique number. More often than not, the perpetrator forges falsified documents using the victim’s personal information. Lastly, there is synthetic identity theft, in which the criminals use the casualty’s social security number and falsify information such as birth dates, names and addresses, thereby creating entirely new identities that they can use to commit fraud and build their credit. Nevertheless, the Social Security Number would not change, in which case, the victim’s credit would still be ruined in the long-term.

Numerous strategies have been devised to combat identity theft. Key among them is ensuring that personal information is not shared with other entities unless it is absolutely necessary (Machajewski, 2017). Information such as the date of birth, bank account number and social security number, among other sensitive information, should be protected to reduce the potential of it being accessed by unauthorized entities (Mcnair& Williams, 2017). Important documents that incorporate such information including prescription drug containers should be secured or even entirely destroyed.

On the same note, delicate information such as password combinations and usernames should be protected and not stored in public computers’ hard drives. It is imperative that an individual logs out from secure sites such as online banks’ websites after use. Organizations must always ensure that their systems have top-notch security against cybercrimes such as automatically logging out users after a period of inactivity (Machajewski, 2017). This should be complemented by ensuring that the password information is not saved on the web browser and other sensitive sites.


Machajewski, S. (2017). Identity Theft in the 21st Century. New York, NY: Greenhaven Publishing LLC.
Mcnair, G., & Williams, T. (2017). Identity Theft. New York, NY: Bookbaby.

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What Is Identity Theft?. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/what-is-identity-theft-essay

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