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Identity Theft Throughout History Essay

1603 words - 7 pages

Identity Theft
I’ve decided to write my research paper on the issue of identity theft. Identity theft has occurred all throughout history in various ways and forms. Today, it is one of the fastest growing crimes occurring all over the world. Data suggests that identity theft accounts for roughly $50 billion stolen each year from citizens and businesses in the U.S. I believe that more attention should be targeted towards identity theft because of the detrimental effects it can have on a single victim and on our nation’s economy. Topics I will discuss include statistics about the crime, laws that protect the victims of the crimes, and what we are doing to prevent future attacks from ...view middle of the document...

Government officials have become very aware of the danger that white-collar crime “identity theft” holds, and since the early 2000’s special agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) have maintained statistics and records on the number of documented reports of identity theft each year. Using the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the Bureau is able to track patterns of identity theft and help people to be informed on the very real danger that can occur unexpectedly. In 2012, nearly 16.6 million Americans were the victims of identity theft. This number represents about 7% of all Americans aged 16 or older.(Mccarthy, BJS) The loses associated with these crimes totaled roughly $21 billion.
Criminals typically intend on stealing someone’s identity, it doesn’t usually just happen on accident. The actual act of obtaining a person’s personal identity is not an incredibly hard task. Some of the most common ways that thieves get personal information is by looking over people’s shoulders when they hit their pin at an ATM or listening as you give your credit card information over a phone. Many dumpster drivers all sift through trash to find vital information on receipts or old checks. They can also find “pre-approved” credit cards that people threw out and did not shred. In later years, thieves have used “phishing scams” meant to pose as a person’s bank or creditor through an email and request personal information immediately to assure their account safety. (Knox)
With the gradual increase of reported cases of identity theft each year, new laws are imposed both federally and at the state level. In 1998 Congress passed The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act which finally declared Identity theft as a federal crime. Committing this crime now serves a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and up to a maximum $250,000 fine. Further laws have been enacted to help protect victims of identity theft by requiring consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to allow victims to place alerts on their credit files. The agencies are also required to investigate any claim of fraud and correct any inaccuracies that are found. Also due to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 2003, citizens are now entitled to one free credit check from each of the three credit reporting agencies to help people investigate any fraudulent activities that may be affecting their credit history. (
At a state level, each state has its own set of laws regarding Identity theft. Here in Ohio, identity theft (or fraud) of any sort is an automatic felony. The degree of that felony is dependent on the amount of money that was stolen during the crime. The range in Ohio is anywhere from a 5th degree felony to a 2nd degree felony for a general identity fraud. Under specific circumstances of fraud against an elderly person or a disabled adult, the seriousness climbs with the potential of committing a 1st degree felony. Other...

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