Ethical issues raised by social media; Identity Theft

As I read the case of Leah Palmer, I felt the insides of my stomach curdling as a wave of disgust hit me.

Knowing that someone out there is stealing all your photos, contacts and personal connections, then using those factual information to orchestrate it to their whims and fancies of their imagination makes me sick. But here’s some bad news: Identity theft is becoming more and more prevalent due to easy access of information today, with 19 people become victims of identity theft every minute. (Ftc.gov, 2016)

identity-theft-stats

(taken from http://www.safesmartliving.com/identity-theft-statistics/#source-3)

Identity theft comes in numerous variations, but essentially, it occurs when someone uses bits and pieces of information about you without your knowledge. In 2014, more than one billion records containing personally identifiable information were leaked. (Ftc.gov, 2016)

Whether you’re a male or female, you have every reason to be worried.

WHY IT IS SIGNIFICANT AND IMPORTANT

If the case of Leah Palmer isn’t enough to keep you on your toes about what you’re putting out on the internet, there’s more.

It’s more than just cat-fishing, (which is the act of luring people with fictitious profiles to be romantically involved). (Mail Online, 2016)

Identity thefts also concerns financial fraud, examples include credit card fraud, bank fraud, tax rebate fraud. Do you know what this entails? This means that you could go to jail. For something you didn’t do.

By the time you realised what you’re in, you could very well be overwhelmed with debts chalked up by the perpetrator. The next thing you know, you could very well be in an interrogation room.

What else? Identity thieves can use your identity to commit almost any crime imaginable in your name. Others include entering or leaving a country illegally, trafficking drugs, smuggling other substances, committing cyber crimes, laundering money and much more. (Identity Theft, 2016)

SO IF YOU THOUGHT THAT WAS BAD, IT’S ABOUT TO GET WORSE.

Law enforcement doesn’t investigate many of such crimes because there’s just too much identity fraud occurring for them to handle all such cases, which is one reason why identity theft is skyrocketing; much of the crimes does not yet get the attention of law enforcement that more violent crimes receive – like breaking and entering, mugging, robbery by gunpoint, and bank thefts. (Privacyrights.org, 2016)

Theft of all sorts is a crime, that makes identity theft a crime. While such acts don’t necessarily involve the actual taking of any personal possessions, it could lead to greater societal problems if left improperly dealt with.

(416 words)

References:

BBC News. (2016). Who’s that girl? The curious case of Leah Palmer – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31710738 [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Ftc.gov. (2016). Identity Theft Tops FTC’s Consumer Complaint Categories Again in 2014 | Federal Trade Commission. [online] Available at: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/02/identity-theft-tops-ftcs-consumer-complaint-categories-again-2014 [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Statistics, (2016). 7 Alarming Identity Theft Statistics | Safe Smart Living. [online] Safe Smart Living. Available at: http://www.safesmartliving.com/identity-theft-statistics/#source-3 [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Mail Online. (2016). ‘Catfishing:’ The phenomenon of Internet scammers who fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into romantic relationships. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2264053/Catfishing-The-phenomenon-Internet-scammers-fabricate-online-identities-entire-social-circles-trick-people-romantic-relationships.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Identity Theft. (2016). What is Identity Theft? | Identity Theft. [online] Available at: http://www.identitytheft.org.uk/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

Privacyrights.org. (2016). Identity Theft: How It Happens, Its Impact on Victims, and Legislative Solutions | Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. [online] Available at: https://www.privacyrights.org/blog/identity-theft-how-it-happens-its-impact-victims-and-legislative-solutions [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

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4 thoughts on “Ethical issues raised by social media; Identity Theft

  1. Hi Vivian, superb post! I also wrote about privacy on my post, however, we both took a very different approach on the topic which I find pretty interesting!

    It is very worrying that anyone could steal your identity and commit crimes under your name without you realising it until it is too late. Furthermore, since law enforcement does not investigate many of such crime, it is difficult to clear your name and reputation which would, in turn, affect your professional online identity as mentioned in topic 3. With that being said, do you think there are any prevention methods individuals can adopt to reduce the possibility of their online identity getting stolen or maybe knowing that their identity has been stolen so that they could report it before there are any serious negative consequences?

    Cheers,
    Valerie 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Valerie,

      Thanks for the question! It got me thinking about specific measures that could be implemented to prevent the numbers of identity theft and I do think one of the best ways is through education.

      The idea is to keep in mind how much information is already out there about you, and generate awareness about what people could do with those information. People would then be more cautious about their personal credentials and turn to take precautionary measures.

      Just my two cents on the matter. 🙂

      Like

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