Identity Fraud

Identity Fraud The Internet is a perfect place for those who wish to operate anonymously, for better or worse, since it is almost impossible for an average Internet user to track the real identity of the people with whom he or she communicates online.

For this reason, identity fraud and identity theft are very widespread methods of Internet fraud.

The two concepts are usually thought of as synonyms, but there is actually an important difference between them.

Identity Theft

Identity theft involves the criminal acquiring the victim’s personal information (name, address, place and date of birth, social security number, etc.) and using that information to impersonate the victim for financial gain. The victim’s identity is not “stolen” literally, of course, but rather used by another person for criminal ends.

Identity Fraud

Identity fraud, on the other hand, simply means an unlawful change of one’s identity, either by assuming a real third person’s identity or a completely fictitious one altogether. Identity fraud does not necessarily involve identity theft, as the person whose identity the fraudster assumes can sometimes be a willful accomplice in the fraud.

Phishing Scams

One of the most often-used methods of identity theft is known as phishing fraud (pronounced “fishing”). Phishing scams attempt to dupe the unassuming victims into giving out their personal information and sensitive data such as email, instant messaging, or online banking user names and passwords.

One common example of a phishing attack involves the victim being contacted via email by what appears to be a legitimate bank, asking to “confirm” the user’s personal information because potentially fraudulent activities were observed in their name. The email contains a link to a genuine-looking website, and the personal information that the victim submits gets into the hands of the fraudster.

Given that identity theft is one of the most widespread and dangerous forms of Internet fraud, there are many methods to prevent such abuse, including anti-phishing software.