Identity theft is a misuse of somebody’s personal information to commit fraud. In other words it is a special kind of larceny that often makes headlines and that appears to be rapidly growing in both scope and frequency.
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The misuse of stolen personal information can be classified into two broad categories: existing account fraud and new account fraud. Existing account fraud occurs when thieves obtain account information such as banking, brokerage, credit or utility accounts. In new account fraud, identity thieves use such personal information as Social Security number, birth date and home address. With the help of this information criminals open new accounts in the victim’s name make charges indiscriminately. After committing a crime they disappear.
The growth of Internet and e-commerce has taken Internet fraud to new levels. Consumers are at the risk of identity theft, using online tools for phishing their private information, such as credit card numbers, security numbers or bank account information. The potential for fraud is a major hurdle in the evolution and growth of online commerce. Given the growth of online fraud, many OECD member countries have taken steps to ensure that consumers and Internet users are adequately protected.
On May 10, 2006, President George W. Bush established The President’s Task Force on Identity Theft via Executive order 13402. In forming the task force, the president called for the coordinated approach among government agencies to combat identity theft and to craft a strategic plan. The task force made a number of recommendations to combat identity theft:
- Reduce the unnecessary use of Social Security numbers by federal agencies.
- Establish national standards that require private sector entities to safeguard the personal data they compile and maintain.
- Implement a broad, sustained awareness campaign by federal agencies to educate consumers, the private sector and the public sector on methods to deter, detect and defend against identity theft.
- Create a National Identity Theft Law Enforcement Center to allow law enforcement agencies to coordinate their efforts and information more efficiently, and investigate and prosecute identity thieves more effectively.
All these recommendations are effective and they can help in struggle against Identity Theft. And perhaps the most effective measures are reducing the unnecessary use of Social Security number and creating a National Identity Theft Law Enforcement Center. Speaking about the first measure, it is a well-known fact that Social Security number is the most valuable commodity for an identity fact. That’s why it is very useful to reduce the unnecessary use of this document.
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