Published 11 Jan 2017
Table of content
This work Contains an explanation as to what Cybercrime and identity theft is. This works also contains the possible implications identity theft brings both to the existing legal system and of course its impact to society. Lastly this wok also contains some recommendations which persons using the internet should do to avoid the occurrence of Identity Theft.
Cybercrime is defined as any criminal activity done using computers and the Internet. The internet, as a modern innovation has brought along convenience and almost unlimited access to information worldwide. However, along with its advantages, it has also exposed a lot of vulnerabilities in computer systems utilized by both small and big industries that depends heavily on the Internet to facilitate their transactions. Computers used by hackers today are being misused for illegal activities like e-mail espionage, credit card fraud, spams, software piracy and other things which invade our privacy and offends our senses. Criminal activities in the cyberspace, or what is more popularly known as Cybercrimes are on the rise.
The coverage of the term Cybercrimes also includes non-monetary offenses, such as creating and distributing viruses on other computers or posting confidential business information on the Internet. This crime constitutes stealing of any information from a person or entity, this is usually done through information hacking. The term “hacking” refers to breaking through a person or entity’s software security usually with the intent of downloading any information which may range from illegal music files to stealing considerable amounts of money from online bank accounts.
Perhaps the most prominent form of cybercrime is identity theft, in which criminals use the Internet to steal personal information from other users. The said method lure users to fake websites (that appear to be legitimate), where they are asked to enter personal information. As of the present countless entities have been ruined because of the prevalence of this illegal activity.
Impact on society
Identity Theft is a very frightening occurrence. Nowadays, the public are somewhat paranoid of giving out information to anyone, be it via an innocent phone call from a call center or an email sent by anyone. The mere thought that some pertinent information might be in the hands of a person who might use it to perpetrate fraud is very disconcerting. According to a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, Identity Theft Survey Report, 7 (Sept. 2003), It was found out that there are 9 million victims of credit identity theft, the total casualties amounted to 47 billion dollars in damage to business and 5 billion dollars in damages to inpiduals.
The distress caused by credit identity theft is real. The Public, in response to the threat of Identity Theft, resorted to doing business in the old fashioned way. This is a deterrent to progress since the internet was actually built and developed to link people better, but because of the fact that there are no absolute assurances which even the brightest of computer technicians and software manufacturers could offer, doing it manually seems to be the appropriate remedy. An example of this would be concerning payment transactions using online payment methods like Paypal. Paypal is a convenient method of paying or making transactions online.
But because of the occurrence of Identity theft, the mere fact that Paypal is using a secure website does little in making its clients minds secure. The reason is because of the proliferation of phishing emails which looks exactly like a regular paypal email. These crimes cause social unrest and fear among people living around the world. It is definitely no laughing matter to have your personal information used in doing fraudulent transactions and even terroristic activities.
The Aftermath 2004 Study finds that victims report rage and anger; personal financial fears; fears for family financial safety; a sense of powerlessness and of feeling defiled. Furthermore, the safety concern is also real, as getting someone’s credit report can serve as a form of long distance surveillance. Credit reports contain much personal information, including employment, addresses, a social security number and birth day. Credit inquiries on the report can give clues as to job or housing applications. The primary harm of credit identity theft is the economic cost of correcting the damage and preventing future damage.
This requires time and resources. Further harm occurs as a result of the damaged credit reports that victims have. They may be denied credit, extended credit at expensive rates, be harassed by collectors, denied housing and employment opportunities. A survivor will have a hard time finding new housing, as mortgage lenders and landlords perform credit checks. Auto insurance companies also perform credit checks, and thus a damaged credit will increase the cost of mobility for a survivor.
Many employers also perform credit checks, and thus the financial independence of a survivor is threatened These harms materialize when domestic violence survivors are most vulnerable: when they are taking steps to begin independent lives apart from their abusers. This is the point when their financial independence is necessary, when they may need to make their own employment, living and transportation arrangements. This is also a time when abusers are likely to strike out: when they see that the survivor is moving towards independence, and away from their power and control.
Legal implications for criminal justice professionals
The Advent of Identity theft left a lot of issues to be resolved by the Criminal Justice system. First and foremost, Identity Theft may cause a miscarriage of justice in the sense that the person whom the legal system is trying to prosecute for a fraudulent transaction done online, may not be the actual person who committed the alleged crime. The possible occurrence of identity theft brings about the possibility that the Criminal justice personnel may be going after a guy who just had his identity stolen. Of course, the opposite may also happen. Persons accused of committing a crime may claim that their identity were stolen.
A Person who happens to have access to another person’s SSS number or I.D could practically rob a bank or kill someone and then implicate the real owner of the said SSS number to the said crime. These chaotic possibilities increase the fear and paranoia circulating amongst the users of the Internet network. To somehow counter this situation, the Federal prosecutors are working along with the federal investigative agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Services.
The Department of Justice prosecutes cases of identity theft and fraud under a variety of federal statutes. The Senate Banking Committee considers possible regulations to battle the growing problem of identity theft. The most recent Federal Trade Commission survey found that 10 million Americans were the victims of some type of identity theft in one year.
Challenges for criminal justice professionals
The Prosecutors of Identity theft should consider creating new guidelines to trace and identify identity theft if and when the said crime occurs. The challenge lies in creating a reliable means to ferret out would be con artists and diminish the possibility of its occurrence on law abiding citizens. It is a known fact that most police officers are not trained to catch high-tech criminals who use techniques such as “phishing” or “keyboard logging” to steal computer users’ financial information or other personal data. The Police must be trained or new resources hired to counter these sophisticated online techniques, which mainly target illegal credit card purchases and illegal transfers out of checking accounts.
Law enforcement jurisdictional conflicts must be resolved. Local and state police often opt not to follow up on identity theft complaints, which typically cross state lines. This puts the bulk of these duties on federal agencies to take the lead and coordinate investigations and arrests with local and state forces. Criminal Justice professionals are also faced with the gigantic task of properly disseminating information concerning Identity Theft, as to how the said crime could be identified and stopped, to everyone especially to the elderly, most of whom have just probably learned to use the Internet system to finish personal transactions. This task should also include setting up advanced monitoring systems on websites to somehow pinpoint and safeguard the Internet system users from potential fraudsters.
All Inpiduals who are using the Internet should make it a point to safeguard their information from potential fraudsters by subscribing to the latest security softwares, it is true that having these security checks does not guarantee that your information will become 100% secure, however having these would definitely minimize the risk of information theft. It should be remembered however that even if a person is in possession of the state of the art anti spy ware, the users of the Internet should be cautious about entering questionable websites, and responding to questionable emails. If a person is vigilant in doing all of these things, the occurrence of identity theft would be very minimal.
- Definition of Cybercrime. Sharpened Productions. Copyright 2006-2007 Retrieved August 28, 2007. http://www.sharpened.net/glossary/definition.php?cybercrime
- Identity Theft and Domestic Abuse. Copyright March 14, 2007 Retrieved August 28, 2007. http://www.epic.org/privacy/dv/identity_theft.html