Identity theft Lucy Hayles, Anna Sinton
What is identity theft? • Identity theft is when someone steals your identity, and uses it to commit criminal offences. • It is estimated that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
What are stolen identities used for? • There are five main ways that fraudsters will use your identity, once they have stolen it. These are: • Credit card fraud • Phone or utilities fraud • Bank/finance fraud • Government documents fraud • Other fraud
Credit Card Fraud • This is when the thief either opens a new credit account in your name, and then doesn’t pay the bills, or when they change the address on your credit card, so you don’t get the bills, and don’t realise they’re spending your money until it’s too late. • These can both turn out to be highly costly to the victim.
Phone or Utilities Fraud • They might run up bills on your existing account, for gas or power, or create a new account in your name. • Also, they could pretend to be you and get utilities like TV, electricity etc.
Bank/Finance Fraud • They might make counterfeit checks, using your name or account number, or write bad checks in your name. • They could clone your ATM card and withdraw money from your account, or get a loan in your name. • Often, the victim doesn’t find out until large amounts of money have been stolen, or they get warning notices telling them to pay back debts they didn’t create.
Government Documents Fraud • This is when your ID, drivers’ licence, or other such official ID is stolen, or your identity is used to get government benefits, or evade taxes.
Other Fraud • They could get a job using your ID • They could get medical services, or rent a house. • Your ID could be given to police on arrest, and when the thief fails to turn up in court, an arrest warrant for you is issued.
How are peoples identities stolen? • Identity thieves use many different ways to harvest peoples’ personal information.
Dumpster Diving • This is when thieves go through your rubbish to find personal information that you have discarded. • You should be careful when getting rid of credit cards/bank statements etc. Always cut up your credit cards before you dispose of them.
Skimming • When people’s credit card numbers are stolen using a special storage device when your card is processed.
Phishing • This is when people pretend to be a bank or other such company, and send large numbers of spam emails to lots of people in the hope that someone will be fooled and give them their personal information. • Spam makes up about 78% of all emails sent. • In January 2010, an estimated 183 billion spam emails were sent each day, compared to 2.4 billion each day in 2002.
Stealing • When thieves steal your handbag or break into your house and steal things the old-fashioned way…
Pretexting • When people use false pretences to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources. • Basically it’s pretending to be someone else to deceive you into giving away vital information, and they usually lie about what the information is going to be used for, too. • E.g. someone might pretend to be a bank manager and ask for your bank details because they say their database info got corrupted, but the real reason they need the info is to use your account to commit financial fraud.
Identity Theft Over Time • Identity theft has been around for a very long time – but the introduction of new technologies has changed how and why identities are stolen. The internet has played a major role in identity theft. • With the invention of internet banking, it is potentially very easy for your identity or money to be stolen.
How to Prevent Your Identity From Being Stolen • Use your common sense – if you get an email from someone in Nigeria, asking for money or your personal ID, ignore it. • Banks will never ask for your passwords or information by email, they will always do it in person. If you get mail asking for this sort of thing, it will be from a scammer. • When keying in a PIN at an ATM, or other important information like bank details over the phone, make sure no-one is staring or listening over your shoulder.
Protecting Your Identity • Use strong passwords – not 1234 or anything obvious. Random combinations of letters or numbers are best. • The three D’s – • Deter • Defend • Detect • Be careful about the information you post online. • Be computer safe – have good security to prevent having the information stored on your computer being compromised.
Famous identity thief • An example of a famous identity thief is Frank Abagnale – a skilled impersonator, check forger, confidence trickster and escape artist. • Starting from age 16, he assumed 8 different identities, successfully impersonating an airline pilot, a doctor, a Bureau of Prisons agent and a lawyer, all before he was 21 years old. • He became notorious in the 1960s for successfully passing US$2.5 million worth of forged cheques across 26 different countries, all in the course of 5 years. • His life story provided inspiration for the movie “Catch me if you can”
Criminal punishment • Identity theft is a serious crime, and with a serious crime comes a serious punishment. • You can get fined, and also jailed, depending on the severity of your theft. • For example, in 2010 an Illinois man from the USA received a sentence of more than 16 years in prision for playing a major role in an identity theft case that caused more than $15 million USD in losses to more than 10 financial institutions. He was ordered to pay out $1.4 million USD. • However, usually it is very difficult to find the perpetrators, so prosecuting the criminals is often a problem.
Famous case of Identity Theft in NZ • David Garrett used the identity of a dead baby to obtain a fake passport. • In 1984, when he was 26, he went to a cemetery and copied the details of a dead 2 year old boy to obtain a fake passport. • He has now resigned from parliament.
Identity Theft Statistics in New Zealand • Of card users, 2.3% said that since January 1st 2005 someone had used a bank number, credit card number or other credit number, without permission, to steal from them. • Overall, 2.8% said that they had been a victim of one of the identity theft forms they had been asked about – similar to the American statistic of 3%. 2.8% equates to about 93,000 New Zealanders 15 years or older living in private households. • The elderly are least at risk and the unemployed are most at risk.
Summary • Identity theft is when people steal your identity and use it to commit fraud • Identities are stolen for different purposes but mainly to commit financial fraud • There are many different types ways to steal identities • There are ways to prevent your identity from being stolen • The internet plays a big part in identity theft
Bibliography • http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/t/the-experience-of-e-crime/4-identity-theft/?searchterm=identity%20theft • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(electronic) • http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/about-identity-theft.html#Whatcanyoudotohelpfightidentitytheft • http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=anatomy-of-a-social-hack&page=2 • http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/P/phishing.html • "Identity Theft." Current Issues: Macmillian Social Science Library. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. • Document URLhttp://ic.galegroup.com.libezp01.slc.ac.nz/ic/ovic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?displayGroupName=K12-Reference&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=GALE%7C00000000LVX5&documentId=GALE%7CPC3021900087&mode=view&userGroupName=64ccc&jsid=843f7f39aa5dc7d8cb766d46b621e957 • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Abagnale • (2010, September 24). Identity theft MP quits. Age, The (Melbourne), p. 13. Retrieved from Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre database. • The New Face of Crime By Kevin J. Delaney 7/12/2010 Retrieved from the World Book Online
Evaluation • We learnt about a major crime that happens to many people, sometimes without the victim even realizing. We also learnt useful things about how to protect against it. • There was plenty of information readily available so this inquiry was relatively easy. Making the PowerPoint was also pretty easy. • Positives: It was easy, it was simple, there was lots of information. • Negatives: Making a PowerPoint was kind of boring, could have made and presented it in a more interesting way.