Identity theft involves the misrepresentation of identity through obtaining another person's personal information, such as Social Security number, driver's license number, or credit card information. Identity theft typically undermines the reputation and credit history of its victims, often subjecting them to an extremely perplexing, psychologically arduous rehabilitative process. Hence, it may take several years before a person entirely recovers from the resulting financial damages incurred.
A Modern Phenomenon
Someone may exploit another's Social Security number, for example – acquired via the internet, or some other means – by misrepresenting himself as that person in order to maliciously deprive the victim of money. Because identity theft may involve financial information, such as credit/debit cards used in merchandise/consumer transactions, it is in that sense a modern phenomenon.
Identity Theft in the Workplace
Businesses remain severely susceptible to identity theft. It occurs quite frequently in the workplace. Businesses often store customers' names, Social Security numbers, and credit card information among other miscellaneous identification material. Such a vast network of data naturally significantly increases the amount of information that is theoretically accessible, and hence the probability of someone retrieving and abusing information. Identity theft may also involve the infiltration of bank, frequent flier, and investment accounts, all maintained by businesses.
Therefore, long-term company sustainability requires security systems and protective measures to prevent such theft. Without such systems, victims, both businesses and individuals, become very vulnerable to identity theft.
Recently, the federal government strengthened penalties in order to curtail identity theft activity. Recent legislative developments, designed to deter the pervasive problem of identity theft, indeed ensure heightened security in an increasingly tumultuous economic climate.
Such measures include the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, a measure instituted to strengthen federal scrutiny of all fraudulent activity involving personal information, and the 2004 Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which extends imprisonment for criminal convictions involving credit card fraud.
Significance of Recent Developments
The effectiveness of these recent developments has not entirely materialized and remains to be determined. Nevertheless, with time, additional amendments to previous measures, and technological innovations corresponding with contemporary changes in law enforcement, legislation may eventually introduce policies that considerably curtail the prevalence of identity theft in the future.
- Schmalleger, Frank, “Criminal Justice Today – An Introductory Text for the 21st Century – 9th Edition”, Prentice Hall, Pearsom Custom Publishing, 2007
- Samaha, Joel, “Criminal Law – 9th Edition”, Thomson Wadsworth, Thomson Higher Education, 2008, 2005
- Schubert, Frank A., “Introduction to Law and the Legal System”, Eighth Edition, Library of Congress, Houghton Mifflin Company, 22 Berkley Street, Boston, MA, USA, 2004
- Mann, Richard A., Roberts, Barry S., “Smith & Roberson’s Business Law, 13th Edition”, Library of Congress, Thomson West, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, 2006
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