Identity theft occurs when someone’s private information is acquired and collected by another person. Identity fraud is the deceptive use of another person’s personal and financial information. Victims experience mental and emotional stress, difficulty obtaining credit and restoring their ‘good name’, and often significant financial loss.
‘Advances in technology have provided criminals with even more ways to steal peoples’ private information,’ says Cpl. Christian Hochhold of Nova Scotia RCMP’s technological crime unit. ‘As people become more and more reliant on technology for daily communication, banking, entertainment, financial transactions and so much more, an increasing amount of personal and financial information is shared and stored online.’
Technology, mainly the Internet, facilitates more elaborate schemes, such as skimming,phishing, and hacking as criminals gather profiles of potential victims. Likewise, computer spywares and viruses, designed to help thieves acquire personal information, are becoming more sophisticated.
‘There is no reason to be paranoid. You just need to be careful,’ adds Cpl. Hochhold. ‘Being wise about the information you disclose online and to whom you give it can minimize criminal opportunities.’