Identity Theft: Protecting Your Real Life

In 2015, more than 13.1 million victims of identity theft have lost control of their lives as a result of benefit frauds, government documents frauds, credit card frauds, etc. The list is long and scary.

Imagine a day while traveling for business, you are being stopped at an airport … The gate does not open … You are asked to follow the police to an office for verifications …. Imagine you are not in your own country … Deprived of your identity documents …. Deprived of your cell phone … Asked to follow the police… To find yourself a few hours later with no explanations in a dark grey cell …. Hours go on and on … And you are still there, no communication, no explanations … But, you know that you have not done anything … You are not meant to be there…. On the wall, you can only read ‘’Yes, you are in jail’’, or ‘’Keep the faith’’ … And, you can’t stop thinking, is this real? How can that happen? Dates … Names …. Messages… All on the grey walls …. You have the time to read them all … Time goes on and on but you are still there… You are still in the cell … No one comes …

While there are obstacles in everyone’s life, such an experience can represent a real trauma.

Identity theft has severe consequences

Research suggests that more than half of individuals share their contact details over social media, including their address, phone number, and of course pictures. While there are ways to protect our personal data with the right controls, people are still highly vulnerable to identity theft with tremendous consequences on their life and persona. Suffering an identity theft, resulting in fraud can lead to severe legal consequences.

The Equifax breach exposed sensitive personal information of 143 million Americans. This is just another example of how consumers and individuals can easily become victims of identity theft. But, this is not an unique incident. We are vulnerable, maybe due to a previously hacked website, like Yahoo, Adobe, or many others.

When legislations are different, new environments are strange, and uncertainties are left behind, people might fall victims to the worse ever scenarios. While we believe, systems are there to protect the individual’s rights, including human rights, identity theft does not have borders. Lacking awareness about the subject is the first reason for such consequences.

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Government documents or benefits fraud represents more than 40% of identity theft cases for 2015 in the United States. Credit card fraud reached 15%. Such crimes would carry a maximum fine of $1,000 or so, and a sentence of up to one year in the district jail. Felony credit card fraud in which property of significant value was obtained might be punishable by a $25,000 fine and 15 years in prison. A bounced cheque can lead from one year to several years in jail.

Financial fraud is a criminal offence in several countries, including India, Qatar and the UAE. This includes financial transactions like bounced cheques.

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