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Identity Theft- How to Protect Yourself with Suitable Measures

Updated : August 4th, 2020

Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. Unlike fingerprints, which are unique and cannot be given to someone else for their use, personal data­ especially Social Security number, bank account or credit card number, telephone calling card number, and other valuable identifying data ­ can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands.

In the United States and Canada, for example, many people have reported that unauthorized persons have taken funds out of their bank or financial accounts, or, in the worst cases, taken over their identities altogether, incurring huge debts and committing crimes while using the victim’s names.

In many cases, a victim’s losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses but substantial additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting the erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible.

Rise and impact of identity theft on businesses and individuals

According to the reports of the US Department of Justice released in 2010, an average of 193 federal cases of cyber crimes was prosecuted by the Department of Justice. The US Sentencing Commission is in the process of bringing out its annual report of 2016 which will reflect the number of victims of Cyber Crimes between 2015 and 2016.

Americans have been victims and suffered harm as a result of the theft of their identity in the last twelve months. Furthermore, the agency also released a commission report detailing its identity theft program since its inception. The survey found that within a period of one year, 2.28 million consumers discovered that new accounts had been opened and other fraudulent activities such as renting an apartment or home, obtaining medical care or employment, had been committed in their name.

In those cases, the victims were categorized as follows: 2.28% Existing Credit Card Account Fraud, 1.15% Existing Non-Credit Cards Accounts Fraud, and 0.83% new accounts and other Fraud, with a mean fraud loss of $ 5,803 per victim. Existing Credit Card Accounts fraud is the least costly classification, while New Accounts and other Frauds with a mean loss of $ 12,646 is the most serious category. Existing Non-Credit Card Accounts fraud, which includes existing credit and saving accounts, is the mid-range classification with a mean loss of $ 9.912.

Nature of Information under threat in identity theft cases

In the cyberspace, identity thieves are looking for sensitive personal information, and there are many pieces of information that could be utilized. Some of the most common are:

  • Social Security Numbers (SSN): This number was created to keep an accurate record of earnings and pay retirement benefits on those earnings.
  • Date of Birth (DOB): Date of birth, in conjunction with other pieces of information, can be used in many ways to compromise a person’s identity.
  • Current and Previous Addresses and Phone Numbers: Both can be used in cybercrime and identity theft to enable an offender to assume the identity of the victim or to obtain more information thereabout.
  • Current and Previous Employment Information: Such information can be used to jeopardize the victim’s identity.
  • Financial Account Information: This includes checking and savings accounts, credit cards, debit cards, and financial planning information. Such information is a rich source for an identity thief to commit financial cybercrimes.
  • Mother’s Maiden Name: In many instances, the maiden name of the victim’s mother may be used as the password for financial accounts and is easily available through public record information.
  • Other Personal Information: This includes passwords, passcodes, email addresses as well as photos. Such information could be utilized to obtain access to other sensitive information or to facilitate total or partial identity theft.

Tackling the Menace of Identity Theft: Technological Perspectives

Anyone who is concerned with the possibility of identity theft should adopt techniques designed to stop these kinds of crimes before they happen. A great deal of information about identity theft prevention is available from trustworthy sources, such as state attorneys general offices, the United States Department of Justice, and local consumer protection agencies.

Among the most effective strategies to avoid becoming a victim include conducting regularly scheduled credit report reviews, using online passwords that are unique and difficult to guess, shredding financial documents before throwing them away, and sending and receiving mail using a secure mailbox.

Taking the recommended precautions is no guarantee against identity theft, however. One of the best ways for people to minimize the loss in the event they are victimized is to learn to recognize the signs that a crime has occurred. Unfamiliar entries on credit reports are a strong indication of identity theft. Other signs include bills arriving in the mail addressed to someone else, a sudden increase in pre-approved credit offers, and unexpected telephone calls from debt collectors. It is important to quickly follow up on such occurrences to determine their cause. Those who suspect an identity crime is being committed should immediately report the incident to the appropriate credit agencies and law enforcement officials.

Prevention and Regulation of Identity Theft: Legal Perspectives

Identity theft is generally tackled and regulated in the US through the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, 1988. It has been able to achieve four main objectives:

  1. It made identity theft a separate crime against the individual whose identity was stolen and credit destroyed. Previously, victims had been defined solely by financial loss and often the emphasis was on banks and other financial institutions, rather than on individuals.
  2. It established the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the Federal Government’s one central point of contact for reporting instances of identity theft by creating the Identity Theft Data Clearing House.
  3. It increased criminal penalties for identity theft and fraud. Specifically, the crime now carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and substantial fines.
  4. It closed legal loopholes, which previously had made it a crime to produce or possess false identity documents but not to steal another person’s personal information.

Identity theft, therefore, remains a big threat for individuals and businesses in the 21st century which can be prevented effectively by taking the precautionary measures mentioned above. However, the perspective of law enforcement to prevent identity theft still remains a grey area as the US Department of Justice has struggled in the last 15 years to adopt counter-measures to tackle this issue. All measures adopted so far have been reactive rather than proactive. Thus, it remains to be seen what measures are adopted in the next 20 years to deal with this menace both from the technological and legal perspectives.

 

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  1. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

  2. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much
    Lorraine

  3. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  4. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  5. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  6. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  7. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  8. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  9. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  10. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  11. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  12. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  13. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  14. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  15. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    Inbox
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

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