by Sonika Bisht
In this article, identity theft, its prevention measures and provisions made by the government will be discussed. Along with this, types of identity theft will also be evaluated.
As fast as we are moving towards the digital world, the number of identity theft is also increasing at the same rate. With the speed with which technology has progressed, human dependence on the Internet has also increased at the same rate. Sitting at one place, through the Internet, the access of man has become easy to every corner of the world. In today’s time, everything that a person can think about can be accessed through the Internet, such as social networking, online shopping, storing data, gaming, online study, online jobs, etc. In today’s time internet is used in almost every field. The concept of[i] identity theft has also evolved with the development of the Internet and its associated benefits.
Presently a large population of India uses social networking sites. There is a lack of information among people regarding the use of social networking sites in India. Along with this, the servers of most social networking sites are abroad, which makes it difficult to get to the root of identity theft in India. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s personally identifiable information, such as their name, identification number, or credit card number, without that person’s permission, or to defraud or commit other types of crime. The term identity theft first appeared in the UK and US in 1964 when some criminals there were committing a criminal act by pretending to be another person. Identity theft is mainly used for financial gain or getting loans and many other benefits. But the person, whose identity has been stolen due to this, has to suffer financial, mental, and in many cases other types of loss as well. Personal identification information typically includes people’s names, dates of birth, PAN numbers, driver license numbers, bank account, and credit card numbers, fingerprints, passwords, and some other information that is linked to a person’s financial resources.
[ii]TYPES OF IDENTITY THEFT
- Professional or business identity theft – Business or business identity theft entails using a business name for obtaining credit or billing the business’s customers for products and services. Often, but not always, a social security number (SSN) of a company official is required to perform business identity theft. Federal ID or Employee Identification Number is readily available on public records, dumpsters or internally, thus facilitating this crime. Perpetrators of business identity theft are often insiders or current or ex-employees with direct access to operational documentation, who keep the books on the side of their plan. Victims of business identity theft often don’t find out until the damage is significantly reduced or someone looks at the discrepancies in the books internally. Businesses lose huge amounts of money due to the hidden nature of transactions. Business identity theft can go on for years undetermined.
- New account fraud – As in financial identity theft, new account fraud generally means using other personal identification information to obtain products and services using that person’s good credit. There can be several types of financial identity theft. The opening of a new utility, new cell phone or new credit card account is the most prevalent form of new account fraud. Because the thief is likely using a different postal address, the victim never sees the bill for the new account. When this type of fraud involves a credit card, once the new plastic is issued, the criminal very quickly turns it into cash. What is often, but not always, required for most lines of credit and for new account fraud is the victim’s SSN, which has become the key to the state. Once in the wrong hands, an SSN can have disastrous effects. Victims of new account fraud usually learn that they are victims when they receive calls or letters from bill collectors, who eventually find the SSN holder. Victims may be denied loans as a result of applying for a loan.
- Account takeover fraud – As in financial identity theft, account acquisition fraud typically uses another person’s account information (for example, credit card numbers) to obtain products and services using that person’s existing accounts. . It can also mean withdrawing money from a person’s bank account. Account numbers are often found in the trash, hacked online, stolen from the mail, or taken from a purse or purse. Once thieves obtain this data, they can use the information to access personal accounts online at the point of sale or over the phone or through the postal service. The entity processing the social engineering data is almost always required at some stage: Lying to convert the data into cash, presenting the perpetrator as the victim. Victims are often the first to detect account takeover when they discover charges on monthly statements that they did not eliminate from authorized accounts or existing accounts. Sometimes the victim will come to know that their bank account was tampered with as a result of multiple allegations from a bounced check.
- Criminal identity theft – Criminal identity theft occurs when someone who has been arrested for committing a crime presents himself as another person, by using the details and information of that person. The result is a criminal record in the name of the victim, who may not learn of the crime until it’s too late.
- Medical identity theft – It occurs when the criminal uses the information of someone else to get prescription drugs, see the doctor or claim the insurance benefit.
HOW DOES IDENTITY THEFT HAPPEN
Identity theft occurs when your personal information is learned or stolen and then used to pretend to be you. Identity theft begins with personal information—such as your name, Social Security organization, credit card security, bank account, or other financial account information. Identity thieves use various methods to obtain information about individuals; some of them are as follows:
- Dumpster diving – This is a scavenging of junk, which may contain personal information on any type of bill or other paper.
- [iii]Skimming – When you are using your credit card, debit card, then the number of credit card, debit card, is stolen.
- Phishing – They send you spam or pop-up messages to get your personal information.
- Change Your Address – Change its address in the Address form of your Billing Statement.
- Old Fashioned Stealing – They misuse your pocket purse by stealing records like credit cards, bank statements, pre-approved loans, etc.
- Pretexting – Obtaining your personal information from you through telephone companies or other sources under false or false pretexts.
HOW TO PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT
[iv]It is important that we keep a few tips in mind when using any device or platform on the network. The purpose is none other than to always preserve data and not to risk security and privacy while browsing.
- Encrypt devices and accounts – Something basic and fundamental is to properly encrypt our devices and accounts. This means that we are going to create passwords that are strong and complex to protect our computers and the accounts we have. That password must consist of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and other special symbols. It must be unique and completely random. As an additional option it is interesting to enable two-step authentication whenever possible. This way we will create an additional layer of security to prevent the entry of intruders who can steal our identity.
- Keep teams up to date – Of course the equipment must be correctly updated. On many occasions vulnerabilities arise which are used by hackers to carry out their attacks. It is important that we install the latest patches and updates and fix those security flaws.
- Use only official and trusted software – Another very important issue to consider is to use only official and trusted software. It’s true that sometimes we may find programs that can offer additional features, but we’ll put our security and privacy at risk. Ideal is only official software.
- Have safety equipment – Security programs can help us prevent malware from stealing our data. Having a good antivirus is highly recommended. Fortunately, we have wide possibilities in this regard. It should be applied to the type of operating system we are using.
LEGAL PROVISION IN INDIA
Any kind of theft, even if it was not done for a noble cause, for example – if a friend told me that he stole a coat because he is homeless and poor and if he does not wear a coat, then he would have died in this severe cold at midnight, even in this condition he would be punished for theft. Thus,[v] Chapter XVII (378-382) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with offenses against property. Identity theft involves both theft and fraud, therefore the provisions with regard to forgery as provided under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) are often invoked along with the Information Technology Act, 2000. Some of the Sections of IPC such as forgery (Section 464), making false documents (Section 465), forgery for purpose of cheating (Section 468), reputation (Section 469), using as genuine a forged document (Section 471) and possession of a document known to be forged and intending to use it as genuine (Section 474) can be coupled with those in the IT Act.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) is the main act which deals with the legislation in India governing cybercrimes
[i] IDENTITY THEFT, THE UNITED STATES OF DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, November 16, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/identity-theft/identity-theft-and-identity-fraud.
[ii] Dilpreet Singh, Identity Theft: A Modern Era Crime, SoOLEGAL, 17 March 2020, https://www.soolegal.com/roar/identity-theft-a-modern-era-crime-1.
[iii] Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs, https://www.dia.govt.nz/Identity—How-does-identity-theft-happen.
[iv] Help Prevent Identity Theft, KEN PAXTON, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS, https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/identity-theft/help-prevent-identity-theft.
[v] CHAPTER XVII (378-382) OF IPC –OFFENCES AGAINST PROPERTY, IN: INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860, https://www.writinglaw.com/theft-378-382-indian-penal-code/#:~:text=Whoever%20commits%20theft%2C%20having%20made,the%20retaining%20of%20property%20taken.
[vi] Picture: managedsolution