Identity theft and identity fraud

Identity theft is a form of crime in which the criminal steals the personal details of a person with the aim of posing as the individual.  The fraudster acquires the personal data of the victim through various methods such as hacking into one’s computer in case of unsafe internet connection; stealing the victim’s identity or ATM card; intercepting, and phishing emails. Identity fraud is the use of stolen personal information for illicit gain (Holm, 2017). That is, after the criminal gets hold of an individual’s information, he or she goes ahead to impersonate the victim.  So, the criminal uses the stolen information to apply for credit or buy goods and services. Identity fraud is categorized into credit card fraud; government identity fraud; employment fraud; utilities fraud; bank fraud; and loan fraud. The criminals involved in identity fraud and theft use various high-end low-tech techniques to get hold of their victims’ personal information. For instance, they use malware and spyware, engage in other crimes such as robberies and theft, and monitor their target through social media platforms (Broadhurst, 2017). However, the two crimes are normally categorized as one crime given that they involve the stealing and use of other people’s data for illegal purposes.

The Australian government has acknowledged that identity fraud and identity theft are the most common, dangerous, and expensive crimes in the country (Holm, 2017). In 2014, more than 770,000 Australians were victims of identity theft (Edwards, 2015). According to the Insurance  Council of Australia,(ICA), most of the fraud and theft is carried out through the internet, and it costs the taxpayers approximately $1 Billion per year. Statistics identify that in every twenty seconds, Australian people become victims of identity theft and fraud, and these cases are more common compared to motor vehicle theft, robbery, household break-ins, or assault in the country. The biggest problem caused by identity fraud and theft in Australia is its effects on the victims. For instance, criminals use fraud and theft to acquire loans and credit in the name of their victims, causing them to pay for something they had no idea of. On the other hand, identity fraud and theft has had a massive toll on the country’s economy due to the high amounts of unpaid debt, and the money spends on fighting crime.

Dealing with identity theft and fraud is a long process because it takes a minimum of 18 hours to deal with one case. Apart from spending a lot of the economy’s money to solve such crimes, the exercise is time-consuming and very stressful for the victims. The Australian people are advised to be very keen on where and how to carry out their transactions, as well as report for any unrecognized transactions or activities in their name.

 

 

References

Broadhurst, R. (2017). Cybercrime in Australia. In The Palgrave Handbook of Australian and New Zealand Criminology, Crime and Justice (pp. 221-235). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Edwards, M. (2015). 770,000 Australians fall victim to identity theft. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-14/identity-theft-hits-australians-veda/6390570

Holm, E. (2017). The Darknet: A New Passageway to Identity Theft. Int’l J. Info. Sec. & Cybercrime, 6, 41.

 
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