I work for District Attorney on criminal identity theft cases and fraud. Many of these cases are relatively petty and involve friends or members of the same family. Sometimes a kid will get a hold of their friend’s parent’s credit card and go buy some video games. Occasionally we will allow the cases to be settled outside of court, but our duty is to prosecute when the state determines the depth of criminal intent. Needless to say my staff and I have been exceedingly busy the past few years as the number of criminal identity theft cases has steadily increased. The threat is very real and here are some things to keep in mind.
- Although most identity theft is caused by someone you know, many professional criminals make a career of stealing and using other people’s identities.
- When delivering, receiving or discarding mail it is important to know how to protect sensitive information.
- Online Identity Theft is a very difficult crime to prevent without more people being on guard with what websites they visit and how they can protect themselves.
- Identity Theft of Children as well as the identity theft of business are perhaps the most devastating in this genre of criminal activity.
Crime goes where there’s Money
Crime follows wealth, and because of the vulnerability of the US economy, many people have turned to crime to support themselves. We find from our investigations that many people with identity theft criminal records move their operations outside the country, but continue to commit their crime within our borders. They run businesses that steal information through remote scams. This involves either making phony telephone calls to victims posing as someone else, or creating computer viruses like spyware, adware, and malicious emails to lure people into giving away sensitive information. It is difficult to catch and try these people as they operate from so many parts of the world with varying levels of sophistication.
Mail is another thing that is a prized commodity among criminal identity thieves. People often haphazardly throw away their mail without thinking of the possible consequences should it end up in the wrong hands. Once trash is thrown out onto the street it is considered public property. This means someone can go through your trash and take out what they want. Your identity can be stolen if a criminal finds discarded bill or bank statements with your social security number on them. Always remember to shred mail before disposing.
Our Children are Targets
Lastly keep a vigil watch over your children’s information. Children are increasingly becoming the victims of identity theft because they offer a target that may not have any idea their id has been stolen for many years. However, like an adult they too have a social security number that can be used to open lines of credit. A thief can get away with this crime for many years before a person might ever find out.