The Identity Theft Resource Center and the Federal Trade Commission routinely conduct focused research on the impact of identity theft in order to get a clear picture of the nature and aftermath of this crime. For the fifteenth year in a row, the number one consumer complaint to the FTC is identity theft, and targeted efforts are being made to help develop a broader picture of what identity theft really entails in order to establish the protocols that will lead to better prevention.
We’ve come a long way from the days when identity theft first became a widespread problem, back when law enforcement officials didn’t quite know how to address it. It was such a new, unheard of issue even as recently as the 1980s that victims, the financial sector, and the judicial system alike often felt lost. The end result back then was often a lengthy nightmare for the individuals who were trying to clear their names.
A Florida case involving a drug dealer may have changed the face of individual privacy in this country. The police in the case used a few different methods to locate and apprehend the suspect without obtaining a warrant, methods that the Florida Supreme Court has now declared illegal.
In a matter that has frustrated both individuals and open internet advocates, Google is slowly making its way through the mountain of requests that have flooded their offices since the EU ruled earlier this year on the Right to Be Forgotten. The ruling gives citizens the right to request certain webpages be removed from linking to them through search engines if the information is false or outdated. Under some countries’ laws, the request process actually allows for guilty individuals to have mentions of their crimes removed if enough time has passed and the sentence has been fulfilled.
California Governor Edmund Brown, Jr., signed proposed ID theft legislation into law on September 30th, marking a significant step in protecting citizens from data breaches and the resulting fraud. The bill, AB 1710, will take effect on the first day of the new year, and will go a long way towards helping consumers recover from large-scale data breaches.
With the growing rates of ID theft and tax refund fraud, thieves have taken their crimes to even the state income tax level in order to make fast money. One state has implemented a computer system to help prevent tax refund fraud, but the end result has been a slower payout of as many as one hundred thousand refunds, a delay which is costing the state hefty penalties in interest.
It’s one of the more difficult conundrums surrounding internet use: the more awareness and education about internet safety that works its way into the public consciousness, the faster the bad guys have to work to keep up. As organizations like the ITRC work to keep the public informed about some of the more dangerous behaviors and best practices associated with having an online presence, the more creative hackers and identity thieves have become in order to continue their crime sprees.