Identify theft refers to any fraud that takes form of pretence to be someone else with a motivation of stealing money or to get any other benefits. The use of the term identity theft is actually a misnomer because it is difficulty to steal individual identity. One can only use identity theft but not really steal it. The main aim of identity theft is to gain individual identity in order to use it for monetary or any other benefit. On the other hand, an individual whose identity is stolen suffers negative consequences in different ways. Identity theft is a new crime in the world that has increased with the new technology. Many countries have specific laws which are aimed at making identity theft a crime but others are yet to put in place strict laws that make identity theft a crime.
Identity theft is a new form of crime having evolved from 1960s. Research shows that identity theft crimes have developed in line with new emerging technologies that had allowed exposure of personal details to the world. The problem has been aggravated by lack of coherent statistics until recent studies revealed the extent of the problem. Government reports in 1998 showed that there were no comprehensive statistical data which could reveal to the world the gravity of the problem (Stana, 2002). Recent reviews also shows that statistical measures of identity theft is still faced by a number of problems which means there are cases of identity theft which are not reported. According to consumer reporting agency, the number of cases on identity theft has increased on daily bases. Data shows that increased penetration of technology has provided more room for identity theft thereby increasing prevalence of the problem. The recent statistics shows that 3.6 million households in U.S are affected (Merrill Lynch, 2010). Individuals have lost more than $3.2 billion due to identity theft. Identity theft is leading complaint that is filed with Federal Trade Commission (Merrill Lynch, 2010). In addition, statistics shows that businesses have lost more than $52 billion from identity theft while consumers lose more than $50 billion annually. In 2008, more than 9.9 million Americas were victims of identity theft which was an increase of 22% from 2007 (Finklea, 2010).
From the above statistics, it is evident that identity theft is a major problem that is affecting thousands of people in United States. It is not a problem that affects particular individuals in the society but everyone is in the trap. With technology encroaching into all spheres of our life, we are becoming more prone to identity theft and unless one takes preventative measure, one will always be a prime target for the crime. In addition, students are at an increased risk going by their trend in use of internet. More than any segment of the population, students have been shown to be leading consumers of internet technology. Congressional report shows that students are three times more likely to become victims of identity theft compared to the general population. This means that college students are at an increased risk of becoming targets of identity theft unless they take appropriate measures that cushions them from the crime. b)Purpose of study
Going by the trend in increased use of new technologies like online purchases, those who use these services are at an increased risk. Students, being leading consumers of internet technologies are at an increased risk. Problem background shows that students are three times more likely to fall victims to identity theft. Putting into consideration the vulnerability of students, it is important that students understand different ways through which they can prevent themselves from becoming victims of identity theft. The purpose of this study is to look into whether students are taking the appropriate strategies to avoid becoming victims of identity theft.
c)Objectives of the study