In 2013, American found themselves a victim of identity theft every two seconds. The number of identity theft victims climbed to approximately 13,1 million throughout 2013. Generally speaking, identity theft is the wrongful use of another individual’s identity to commit financial or other crimes. This identity theft may include, but is not limited to: credit cards, social security information, or driver’s license numbers Typically, identity thieves use this stolen information for committing other offenses, such as fraudulently obtaining financial loans, amongst various other serious crimes.
With the Internet becoming so prominent in our society and automated teller machines, identity theft has become a serious issue throughout America. Identity theft is capable of harming all socioeconomic groups. It is able to target individuals in society, as well as financial institutions.
Once an individual becomes a victim of identity theft, they are a higher-risk for re-victimizaLion if an identity thief recycles that stolen information to other criminals. Individuals who find themselves victims of identity theft suffer from extreme aggravation and even see financial losses.
Since modern commerce is so disconnected from the individual, victims may suffer long-term due to their information becoming associated with fraudulent transactions. These transactions connected to their identity in credit report files and various other databases are capable of cause difficulty for a victim attempting to obtain credit or even employment. Often times, identity theft criminals engage in the activity not just for their own financial gain, but also to commit other crimes such as evading law enforcement or obtaining medical care with someone else’s identity to avoid payment.
These crimes can have serious consequences for the victims, including incorrect arrests, unwarranted tax assessments, and/or the loss of state or federally granted benefits. In some scenarios, financial institutions are unable to reimburse identity theft victims if not enough proof is present; leaving the victim with serious financial losses. Even if the victim is reimbursed, indirect losses may occur when their credit reports are affected. The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act became effective on October 30, 1998, to help rid the world of identity theft This act made identity theft a federal crime. Criminals who commit identity theft can face up to fifteen years in prison, along with a maximum fine of a quarter» million dollars. Furthermore, this act has allowed law enforcement to investigate all identity theft crimes. It has even allowed law enforcement to investigate the associated fraud that often occurs as a consequence of identity theft.
Law enforcement agencies admit that identity theft victims are a bit of a challenge It is a relatively new crime that has been increasing in popularity at an alarming rate. Since the new federal FACT Act law was implemented, victims must immediately file a police report detailing their identity theft in order to have their case thoroughly investigated. Starting in December of 2004, law enforcement officers have been required to provide these particular police report forms for identity theft victims. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies are expected to have personnel trained in filing these reports, investigating these complex crimes, and collecting necessary evidence to prosecute potential criminals, Identity theft crimes are unlike any traditional crimes that are investigated by law enforcement.
Unlike typical theft investigations where fingerprint kits are utilized, neighborhoods are scoured, and witnesses are interviewed, identity theft cases are unique because there is no physical evidence and typically no witnesses. In many instances, the crime scene where the identity theft took place is hundreds of miles away from the victim‘s location (Dadisho, 2005) Crimes occurring in a different state cross jurisdictional boundaries that complicate the investigation process. Another difficulty that law enforcement faces with identity theft is financial institutions refusing to increase their security measures to prevent identity theft. Even though the identity theft victim is identified as the individual whose identity is stolen, the financial institutions are negatively affected as well as they reimburse the funds lost by the victim.
Once this occurs, the financial institutions become the victims. In most cases, financial institutions do not prosecute unless there are major financial losses, but over time, these losses can add up to daunting figures. With the Internet becoming so prominent in our society and automated teller machines, identity theft has become a serious issue throughout America. Legislation has been implemented to help prevent identity theft and catch these criminals. Unfortunately, the number of identity theft victims throughout the nation has been climbing despite these pieces of legislation, Identity theft investigations are still a struggle for most law enforcement agencies since there is special protocol and a lack of physical evidence, At this point in time, Americans and financial institutions are not safe. Something must be done to stop these thieves and keep Americans safe.