The Impact of Identity Theft on the Global Computing Population

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Internet Identity Theft
Identity theft on the internet is increasing at an alarming rate and is currently the fastest growing form of identity theft. Web based identity theft is one of the largest and most impactful scams impacting the global computing population of this century. An internet user’s identity can be unknowingly stolen via Phising, Pharming, Spam, or Spyware while surfing the internet or using seemingly secure web sites. Personal privacy and the protection of your identity while using the internet from your computer or mobile computing device is one of the most critical issues that must be solved. Government and private sector failures to solve or at a minimum reduce and manage these critical forms of identity theft will negatively impact the internet economy in the future. Is it safe to conduct business on the internet? Who’s affected by Computer Fraud?

Let’s first explore the overall impact of identity theft on the global computing population and those that are impacted by computer fraud. The Federal Trade Commission released the results of a survey in September of 2003. The results of the survey were more disturbing than many had expected at the time. “Over 10 million Americans alone (4.6% of the population at the time) were victims of identity theft the past year. These thefts cost the United States economy over $53 billion during 2002. Since this time period, identity theft has continued to grow at an alarming rate, in excess of 40% on an annual basis. Nearly 5 out of every 100 adults experiences some form of computer or identity theft today, making the internet a dangerous place to conduct business for the inexperienced computer user,” (Identity Theft 911, LLC). The results of the survey were completed in early 2003 and with the continued explosive growth of the internet, the casualty rates are likely much higher than what is depicted in this study. As documented on the table below, identity theft continues to impact millions of Americans and an even larger number of global computing users. (Identity Theft 911, LLC)

The impact of this theft on the global economy is absolutely staggering by today’s standards. In 2003, losses in the US economy alone exceeded $50 billion, which at the time was 0.5% of the US Gross National Product. (Identity Theft 911, LLC)

With the ever increasing number of computing users and the numbers of inexperienced users entering the internet on a daily basis, these numbers are expected to be substantially worse in today’s economy. “The average loss per impacted individual based on the 2003 statistics would be in excess of $5000 - $10,000 per individual,” (Identity Theft 911, LLC). In today’s market, the losses are much greater. Unfortunately, monetary loss is only a small component of the actual loss that a computer user experiences. “On average, internet fraud victims spend a minimum of 30 hours attempting to resolve their fraud related issues,” (National Consumers League's Internet Fraud Watch). This does not take into consideration the humiliation and frustration that is also associated with identity theft. Identity theft can cause a wide range of frustrations for the individual that is impacted. This can include denial of credit, difficulty in using checks, credit, and ATM cards and in some cases the calling of consumer loans or lines of credit. Identity theft also increases consumer and business to business computing costs. Because additional precautions must be taken to prevent computer fraud on corporate web sites, the costs of establishing, developing, and maintaining corporate web and commerce sites can increase dramatically. Running secure web sites and insuring that credit card and other transactions are processed securely has also increased government and industry wide regulation. “HIIPA, PCI, and other regulations and guidelines ultimately further increase end consumer costs due to additional audit and reporting requirements. Larger...
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