Since the dawn of the internet, identity theft has become easier than ever. The ease of access to millions of records and personal information is an open invitation to the criminal persuasion. But are the thieves responsible for stealing your private data completely to blame?
Today’s technology has given criminals the ability to streamline their efforts and victimize multiple people faster and less dangerously than ever before. Hackers have made it possible to infiltrate secure systems around the globe without so much as leaving their couch. Many different types of cyber-crimes exist today that are made to swindle people out of their most valuable assets, their money and their identity.
A common type of cybercrime that is carried out by many people, even those who regularly obey the law is copyright infringement. This includes sharing pirated copies of movies and programs to file sharing music (Siegel, 2012). As innocent as the general public may see it, this type of crime has cost corporations billions of dollars over the years. E-tail fraud involves a victim actively engaging in an online transaction only to have a cheap knock off sent to their home. It is also common place to not receive anything at all and be swindled out of your money all together (Siegel, 2012).
Computer viruses and other malicious programs are very destructive. Some may be specifically designed to compromise certain systems while others are made to spread far and wide throughout the digital world and do as much damage as possible (Siegel, 2012). Despite how effective your antivirus may be on your computer, chances are you have you own personal system infected at one time or another. Created to destroy a system or retrieve all of its sensitive data, either way these types of crimes are detrimental.
Identity theft has grown remarkably easier over the years as technology has advanced. Pre-internet thieves were known to rummage around in your garbage for credit card statements and other personal information. This is no longer the case as most banking and shopping can be done online with no paper statements involved. Those that steal someone’s identity must be a lot more intelligent and computer savvy these days. The end result is that the same tricks can now be accomplished with more stealth and greater results for the criminals.
One difference with today’s identity theft as compared to the past is the victim’s participation in the crime. Phishing is a regular tactic used by criminals to gain access to your personal information (Siegel, 2012). No doubt you have seen emails from what seems to be a legitimate company claiming that you need to verify your account. You would them be taken to a bogus website designed to look like a major business when in reality it is a scam. You are prompted to enter data such as your account number, your name and address and even your social security number. The gullible have now given a criminal everything they need to assume your identity and open lines of credit in your name (Siegel, 2012). This has also taken the form of those mysterious emails from Nigeria and other countries claiming that they need your help to transfer millions of dollars out of the country.
Social network sites are not safe either. Please use the privacy settings that they offer and do not post any information that you don’t want the whole world to know. A disturbing amount of Facebook users post everything from their full name and date of birth all the way to their home address and even the names of their children. Many of these people also are unaware of the privacy features available to them or just choose not to use them (Albanesius, C. 2010).
Due to the ever advancing technology and many people inability to keep up with changes, many cyber-crimes are being committed at an alarming rate. Victim Precipitation Theory can explain many of these crimes that should be able to be avoided. Falling victim to scams and willingly giving out personal information to an unverified source is a fault of the victim themselves. Criminals now have easier access to your personal information and it is your responsibility to safeguard it. Blame the criminal for committing the crime, but also blame yourself for giving away your identity to them with little effort on their part.
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