Five Types of Identity Theft

The authorities have divided identity theft into five categories:

  • Criminal Identity Theft (posing as another person when apprehended for a crime)
  • Financial Identity Theft (using another person’s identity to obtain credit, goods and services)
  • Identity Cloning (using another person’s information to assume his or her identity in daily life)
  • Medical Identity Theft (using another person’s identity to obtain medical care or drugs) and
  • Child Identity Theft

Identity theft may be used to facilitate or fund other crimes including illegal immigration, terrorism, phishing and espionage. There are cases of identity cloning to attack payment systems, including online credit card processing and medical insurance.

Criminal Identity Theft

When a criminal fraudulently identifies himself to police as another individual at the point of arrest, it is sometimes referred to as “Criminal Identity Theft.” In some cases criminals have previously obtained state-issued identity documents using credentials stolen from others, or have simply presented fake ID.

Provided the ploy works, charges may be placed under the victim’s name, letting the criminal off the hook. Victims might only learn of such incidents by chance, for example by receiving court summons, discovering their drivers licenses are suspended when stopped for minor traffic violations, or through background checks performed for employment purposes.

It can be difficult for the victim of a criminal identity theft to clear their record. The steps required to clear the victim’s incorrect criminal record depend in which jurisdiction the crime occurred and whether the true identity of the criminal can be determined.

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The victim might need to locate the original arresting officers and prove their own identity by some reliable means such as fingerprinting or DNA testing, and may need to go to a court hearing to be cleared of the charges.

Obtaining an expungement of court records may also be required. Authorities might permanently maintain the victim’s name as an alias for the criminal’s true identity in their criminal records databases.

One problem that victims of criminal identity theft may encounter is that various data aggregators might still have the incorrect criminal records in their databases even after court and police records are corrected. Thus it is possible that a future background check will return the incorrect criminal records. This is just one example of the kinds of impact that may continue to affect the victims of identity theft for some months or even years after the crime, aside from the psychological trauma that being ‘cloned’ typically causes.

Financial Identity Theft

The most common type is financial identity theft, where someone wants to gain economical benefits in someone else’s name. This includes getting credit cards and lines, loans, goods and services, and claiming to be someone else.

Identity Cloning and Concealment

In this situation, the identity thief impersonates someone else in order to conceal their own true identity. Examples might be illegal immigrants, people hiding from creditors or other individuals, or those who simply want to become “anonymous” for personal reasons.

Another example is posers, a label given to people who use somebody else’s photos and information through social networking sites. Mostly, posers create believable stories involving friends of the real person they are imitating. Unlike identity theft used to obtain credit which usually comes to light when the debts mount, concealment may continue indefinitely without being detected, particularly if the identity thief is able to obtain false credentials in order to pass various authentication tests in everyday life.

Medical Identity Theft

Privacy researcher Pam Dixon, founder of the World Privacy Forum, coined the term medical identity theft and released the first major report about this issue in 2006. In the report, she defined the crime for the first time and made the plight of victims public. The report’s definition of the crime is that medical identity theft occurs when someone seeks medical care under the identity of another person.

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Insurance theft is also very common, if a thief has your insurance information and or your insurance card, they can seek medical attention posing as yourself. In addition to risks of financial harm common to all forms of identity theft, the thief’s medical history may be added to the victim’s medical records. Inaccurate information in the victim’s records is difficult to correct and may affect future insurability or cause doctors relying on the misinformation to deliver inappropriate medical care.

After the publication of the report, which contained a recommendation that consumers receive notifications of medical data breach incidents, California passed a law requiring this, and then finally HIPAA was expanded to also require medical breach notification when breaches affect 500 or more people. Data collected and stored by hospitals and other organizations such as medical aid schemes is up to 10 times more valuable to cyber criminals than credit card information.

Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft occurs when a minor’s identity is used by another person for the impostor’s personal gain. The impostor can be a family member, a friend, or even a stranger who targets children. The Social Security numbers of children are valued because they do not have any information associated with them. Thieves can establish lines of credit, obtain driver’s licenses, or even buy a house using a child’s identity. This fraud can go undetected for years, as most children do not discover the problem until years later.

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Child identity theft is fairly common, and studies have shown that the problem is growing. The largest study on child identity theft, as reported by Richard Power of the Carnegie Mellon Cylab with data supplied by AllClear ID, found that of 40,000 children, 10.2% were victims of identity theft.

A New Wrinkle: Synthetic Identity Theft

A variation of identity theft which has recently become more common is synthetic identity theft, in which identities are completely or partially fabricated. The most common technique involves combining a real social security number with a name and birth date other than the ones associated with the number. Synthetic identity theft is more difficult to track as it doesn’t show on either person’s credit report directly, but may appear as an entirely new file in the credit bureau or as a sub file on one of the victim’s credit reports.

Synthetic identity theft primarily harms the creditors who unwittingly grant the fraudsters credit. Individual victims can be affected if their names become confused with the synthetic identities, or if negative information in their sub files impacts their credit ratings.

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Source: Wikipedia

 

 



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