Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Identity theft involves acquiring key pieces of someone´s identifying information in order to impersonate them and commit various crimes in that person´s name. Besides basic information like name, address and telephone number, identity thieves look for social insurance numbers, driver´s license numbers, credit card and/or bank account numbers, as well as bank cards, telephone calling cards, birth certificates or passports. This information enables the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud: to go on spending sprees under the victim´s name, to take over the victim´s financial accounts, open new accounts, divert the victim´s financial mail to the thief´s address, apply for loans, credit cards, social benefits, rent apartments, establish services with utility companies, and more.

Identity Theft

Overview of Identity Theft in relation to cyber crime: [1]There are many ways in which the offender can obtain personal information about a person in order to commit identity theft. Some of these are ”offline” through physical means, such as when an offender goes through the victim’s trash to find discarded documents such as credit card applications and pay stubs. Other methods are ”online” via a computer or the Internet, such as when victims respond to phishing ploys and enter personal information on dummyWeb sites set up to look like legitimate ones, or when they volunteer personal information to blogs, chat rooms, or social networking Web sites.

Identity Theft Issues

In 1980, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) developed a set of internationally-recognized principles for the responsible treatment of personal information commonly known as the Code of Fair Information Practices. The Code sets out several restrictions and standards concerning the collection, retention, use, disclosure and security of personal information. More recently, the Canadian Standards Association has developed an updated Code called the “Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information.”

For more details, see the OECD Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data, September 1980.

Theft of Digital Information and Related internet Crimes in the Context of Internet Law

Read, in this legal Encyclopedia, about the topic of this section, and, specially, about Identity Theft

Identity Theft in Cyberlaw

internet Crimes in the Context of Internet Law

Theft of Digital Information and Related


Notes and References

1. By Sara E. Berg

See Also

  • Types of Cybercrime
  • Cybercriminal

Further Reading

Berg, S.E. (2008). Identity theft causes, correlates, and factors: A content analysis. In F. Schmallager and M. Pittaro (Eds.), Crimes of the Internet. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall; Federal Trade Commission. (2007). Identity theft victim complaint data: January 1, 2006–December 31, 2006. Retrieved May 21, 2007, from the Federal Trade Commission Web site: (internet link) microsites/idtheft/downloads/clearinghouse_2006.pdf; McQuade, S.C. (2006). Understanding and managing cybercrime. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.; Neuffer, E. (1991, May 27). One name’s double life: David Lombardi lost his ID cards, acquired coworker’s debts and crimes. Boston Globe. Retrieved March 26, 2005, from National Newspapers via ProQuest; Neuffer, E. (1991, July 9). Victims urge crackdown on identity theft: Say officials often fail to act on complaints. Boston Globe. Retrieved March 26, 2005, from National Newspapers via ProQuest; Sharp, T., Shreve-Neiger, A., Fremouw, W., Kane, J., & Hutton, S. (2004, January). Exploring the psychological and somatic impact of identity theft. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 49(1), 131–136.

Hierarchical Display of Identity theft

Law > Criminal law > Offence > Crime against individuals

Identity theft

Concept of Identity theft

See the dictionary definition of Identity theft.

Characteristics of Identity theft

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Translation of Identity theft

Thesaurus of Identity theft

Law > Criminal law > Offence > Crime against individuals > Identity theft

See also

  • Identity fraud
  • Spoofing
  • Phishing


5 responses to “Identity Theft”

  1. international

    The theft of your identity can pose a serious threat to your privacy and has the potential to make your life very difficult. This entry has provided a brief look at some of the factors contributing to this crime, as well as possible ways of preventing it, and failing that, dealing with it.

  2. international

    The problem of identity theft must be fought on several fronts. Applying fair information practices is a good place to start. Moreover, as computers and networks make it easier and easier to gather your personal information, technological methods of protecting privacy will become increasingly important. Organizations that can offer their clients greater informational privacy may well obtain a competitive advantage over those who fail to do so. If enough people demand it, we may find that in the future, anonymous transactions (which authenticate identity in a blind manner), will become the standard, as opposed to the identifiable transactions of the present day. De-identifying information may well pave the way to a future which includes privacy.

  3. international

    Identity protectors, such as blind signatures and digital pseudonyms, are mathematical sequences based on encryption techniques that enable users to conduct electronic transactions in an anonymous manner, while at the same time, allowing the service provider to verify the user�s authenticity and eligibility for benefits and services.

    Digital signatures are the electronic equivalent of handwritten signatures. Like handwritten signatures, which are used to authenticate paper documents, digital signatures placed on electronic documents serve the same purpose. Digital signatures can protect against spoofing and message forgeries, but they offer little privacy since they are intended to identify the originating party. �Blind� signatures, developed by David Chaum of DigiCash,26 go one step further and provide the same authentication as digital signatures, but do so without revealing the originator�s identity, thus rendering it �blind.� The advantage of such a system is that it preserves the authenticating features of digital signatures, while protecting one�s privacy at the same time.

    A digital pseudonym is an alternative pseudo-identity that a user may choose to assume in order to engage in a particular transaction, communication or service in an anonymous manner. One can select a different pseudonym for every service provider, or for use each time that a particular service is used.

  4. international

    For a more in-depth discussion on these and other PETs, readers may wish to see the joint report by the IPC and the Netherlands Data Protection Authority entitled, Privacy-Enhancing Technologies: The Path to Anonymity. Released in the fall of 1995, this paper provides a detailed analysis of advanced encryption techniques that allow for authenticated yet anonymous transactions, such as digital signatures, blind signatures, digital pseudonyms and trusted third parties.

  5. international

    Identity theft is a multi-faceted problem that is unlikely to go away. If you should become a victim, you will need to take action quickly:

    Notify the police, banks, and creditors immediately. Obtain a copy of your police report (as evidence of the fraud having been perpetrated). Cancel all existing credit cards, accounts, passwords and PINs, and replace them with entirely new ones.

    Call the credit bureaus and ask each to attach a fraud alert and victim�s statement to your report. Ask creditors to call you prior to adding any new items to your report. Have all corrections forwarded to anyone who has received your credit report within the past two years. Ask for a free copy of your report after three months.

    Contact the post office if you suspect that an identity thief has filed a change of address form for your name, and is diverting your mail to another address.

    Alert all utility companies that someone has been using your identity fraudulently and inform the appropriate authorities that someone may be abusing your SIN and/or driver�s license number.

    Take action to have any criminal or civil judgments against you that may have resulted from your identity thief�s actions, permanently removed.

    Keep a log of all your contacts and make copies of all documents. You may also wish to contact a privacy or consumer advocacy group.31

    In some cases, it may be advisable to seek the assistance of a lawyer.

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