Identity theft happens someone pretends to be you. This person will then use your personal information will commit fraud and/or will steal from you.
Personal information could mean any of the following:
- Full name
- Mailing address
- Username and password
- Social security number
- Driver’s license number
- Bank account number
- Passport number
These details are tied to your identity, and these may contain unique identifiers that solely belongs you. Once cybercriminals get a hold of these things, they can now pretend to be you and commit a crime. Perhaps, they may also sell it another person who needs a fake identity.
Identity Theft Statistics
According to a report published by Identity Theft Resource Center, in 2019 alone, data breach cases went up to 1,473. A significant increase from the 1,257 reported cases in 2018.
In 2018, Marriott, a hospitality company, is just one of the thousands. Take note: a SINGLE data breach at Marriott was able to access 383 million records. Basing from the ITRC report, the perpetrators were able to acquire passport numbers and credit card numbers.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is not just pertaining to wanted criminals. It could be someone who overhead you dictating your credit card number aloud. Anyone who could be eavesdropping on your phone conversation, and then, that someone uses your information to purchase something on the internet. Truthfully, there could be numerous ways in accessing or stealing your personal details.
It Could Get Worse!
Identity theft is already a serious offense in itself. However, it could get worse. When someone uses your identity to commit a heinous crime, you could be accused of a crime you did not commit. For instance, a criminal used your information in defrauding or deceiving someone else for his or her own economic gain.
The Most Common Ways Thieves Acquire Your Personal Information:
- You would think these criminals would hack into your computer, but no. Honestly, it could happen in public places. When someone is watching you as you type in your credit card number, this is called “shoulder surfing.”
- Another example is when you get pre-approved credit cards in the mail. Often times, you just glance at them, and throw them out the moment you realized it a just a bunch of cards. What you don’t know is that criminals may try to activate these credit cards and use it without you knowing it.
Using Your Identity to Conduct Crimes
With the information that criminals now have, they can do the following:
- Access your banking details and other online accounts,
- Withdraw money from your bank account,
- Apply for bank loans using your personal information, and so on.
Identity theft can affect everyone. Whether you are running a business or you are merely a regular employee, everyone can experience identity theft. However, the stakes are higher when you own a business because a data breach could compromise the identity of your thousands – or even millions – of customers.