Identity Theft: Exaggerated Risk or Real Threat?

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Identity Theft: Exaggerated Risk or Real Threat?

Introduction

“You have $92.13c left in your Chase bank account, contact us today with your details to switch from telephone banking to online banking” - I was in the country barely 72 hours and I was already subject to someone attempting to steal my Identity! I am referring to the past summer that I spent in America working under a student visa. After registering my mobile phone and opening my first American bank account, I started getting texts like the one above. This my was my first personal exposure to the problem of Identity theft, and after a quick Google search to enquire what I was dealing with, I found that it was a very common occurrence in America; More than 57 million American adults receive “phishing” attack emails & texts every year – from hackers or cyber thieves who pretend to be trusted service providers to steal consumer account information, and more than half of those who responded become victims of Identity Theft (Gartner Research, Phishing Attack Victims Likely Victims for Identity Theft). Lucky I didn’t respond to that text then, aren’t I? That was just my small run in with what has become a global problem over the last decade. And, the more I delved into the reading for this topic, the more I became aware of the vast amounts of literature available to me. I felt none of the other topics for this assignment had such in depth reading, which was mostly available online to me. There was online e-books, some of which I purchased; “Identity Theft Secrets: Exposing The Tricks of The Trade” – By Dale Penn, and “Double Trouble” – by Neal O’Farrell. Research websites were also helpful, like the Gartner Research website. I found some very interesting websites online, one of which I’ll give a mention; “Publications USA” – an American government run website, it had a section to provide American consumers with information on Identity Theft. Sites like these helped me understand the impact of Identity Theft on the consumer, how the consumer battles it – and ultimately this showed me how business must deal with it, in their every day transactions with consumers. There was a vast amount of Scholar articles I found online, through Google scholar of course, they took very interesting views on the problem, and posed some very good questions. These articles included; “Did Privacy issues cause identity theft?” to articles such as “Identity theft: Myths, Methods and the New Law”. Also, simply with a quick look at the papers every Sunday for the past few weeks, I found plenty of material in them – Papers such as the Sunday Business Post, The Financial Times, The Guardian & The Irish Times. They always provided me with something to read that was related to identity theft. After reading all this material, I saw both sides of the argument. Most do believe Identity theft is a Real Threat to business and consumers alike. I will quickly look at how much of a problem this has become, and I will then point to some of the major cases, and the impact of these cases on business. However, there are the those that believe Identity theft is over exaggerated, I will look closely at how researchers collect their data for research, and I will also look at the impact of this over-exaggeration within business, how it has sparked some companies within the protection business to come under scrutiny for over-exaggerating the risk of Identity Theft.

Why and how do Identity Thieves do it?
“Cybercrime has surpassed illegal drug trafficking as a crime enterprise” – [Symantec Corporation, 2009] Identity thieves use the Internet as a weapon against individual consumers by taking personal and financial information, such as credit card numbers and social security numbers, and then using that information to, purchase products or launder money (Identity thieves have been known to purchase cars and homes or even create criminal records under another individual’s identity) [Overseas...
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