www.wellcome.ac.uk21st January - 14th March 2012
Gibbs Building215 Euston Road
Identity theft. Not only is it now the number one crime taking over drug trafficking, it could happen to us, anyone and everyone, and as it is never noticed straight away, it could be happening right this second which I find as one of the most scariest prospects. A common statistic found, shows that on average it takes 539 days for the individual to find out that this has even taken place and every four seconds, it takes its next victim. Approximately 50% of its victims dont even know that it has happened, so be very careful, as it could be you, or me next for that matter.
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Personally, I have never been a victim of this myself, yet I have such a fascination into the reasonings behind why it takes place and how individuals become affected. This isnt just a case of it happening here, within the United Kingdom, it is corrupting the whole world unfortunately. I found that most countries have legal responses in reaction to Identity Theft, which include imprisonment and fines.
Almost 50% of its victims never even knew that their identities had been stolen.
To help protect our identities, and us as human beings, below is a list that shows ways in which we can begin to banish this crime.
The Home Office has collaborated with government departments and organisations to tackle identity theft and fraud by putting penalties in place and creating tighter security.
These warnings have been created for everyones safety and to protect them against this awful crime. Criminals often commit the offence by taking personal documents. In the past, cases have been known where this has been achieved by searching through rubbish and making contact with the individual by pretending to be an organisation. A large number of people have been affected by this, so make sure its not going to be you next.
The shredding all personal documents instead of putting them straight in the bin, picking up post and mail as it gets delivered, shopping on secure websites where you know how safe it is, not saving passwords on computers especially if they are shared with others, protecting your computer against viruses which could be passed on to others and being aware of who has access.
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For example Australia, Hong Kong and Canada all hand out imprisonment on minimum terms as part of their punishment, compared to France where a fine is also charged on top of this. According to the Home Office, it is stated that Identity Fraud within the United Kingdom costs the economy 1.2 billion annually although this is said to be even higher.
understand why that with an offence - especially to this scale, that they should they be released so early. I decided to delve a little into both cases as they bothinterested me.
Gonzalez first became hooked as a child when he began hacking computers and removing internal viruses. He was involved in a group of hackers called the Shadowcrew and within this stole, with 4,000 registers people they stole credit card account numbers and counterfeit documents. Overall, it is estimated that $1.43 billion was stolen as the group began to spread worldwide. After also hacking a company known as TJX over an 18 month period, he stole approximately 4.56 million credit card numbers. From this, he was arrested with nineteen charges, told he must serve fifteen to twenty five years in prison and would have all of his belongings repossessed.
Not only are Identity thieves growing thick and fast, there are also those who are professionals and have been caught for committing the crime.
I found two in specfic who have been fined and accused of being involved with such an offence: Albert Gonzalez and Frank Abagnale. These are both Americans who have been accused of creditcard theft and forgery. They have also both been sentenced to imprisonment and below are their individual stories. Abagnale served less than five years before being released to work for the government, whereas Gonzalez in 2010 was sentenced to twenty years in prison. One of the most annoying things is seeing someone being sentenced to a minimum amount of time in prison, yet they never serve it fully. I dont
Frank Abagnales first victim was his father through the use of a credit card. This ended with his father being liable to pay back a large sum of money. He also then began writing personal cheques to himself to an overdrawn account, but this didnt last long and had to change banks. It has been said that he impersonated airline pilots, a teaching assistant, doctor and an attorney. He was first caught by the police in 1969 in France and served a year in jail. This then led to him spending a further 12 years confined in imprisonment for multiple accounts of forgery within the United States although he only served less than five years and did parole in Texas. Since his criminal days, he has now founded Abagnale & Associates who advise businesses about fraud. He is now said to be a millionaire.
Someone has their identity stolen every four seconds in the United States
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There are five main types of identity theft with the most common being identity cloning. This is where one person uses anothers information in order to assume his or her identity within daily life. A main reasoning that I found behind this, could be to hide the fact that they are illegal immigrants, terrorists or they could be on the run from creditors or other individuals. It is still beyond me as to why anyone would even consider doing this.
Types of identity theft
Medical identity theft also happens on a regular occurence. This takes place when someone uses an individuals name or parts of their identity without their knowledge to obtain either medical services or goods. They can also make false claims under this name and once this has been into their medical records, it can cause potential life threatening decisions by medical staff.
Unfortunately, over 50% of victims dont even know that their identities have been stolen for instance with financial identity theft - credit cards, savings and investments can be cloned and it is never necessarily noticed straight away. This is very common in the United States and it can destroy individuals lives as well as costing businesses and their clients.
Last but not least is child identity theft. This occurs when an identity is used by another person for the imposters personal gain. The perpetrator can either be a family member, or a friend but through my research, this type of theft can go unnoticed for years and theproblem is never usually revealed until the child grows up.
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