Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Identity Theft Protection

Nov 5, 2010 Kristyn Hammond

Protect yourself against Identity Theft - psyberartist

Protect yourself against Identity Theft - psyberartist

A conflict between public protection and individual privacy rights runs through the issue of identity theft. Some feel that intrusion into privacy rights is necessary to protect society from the crime. Current criminal containment techniques involve responding to a crime after its commencement or the general deterrent of a roaming police force. Identity theft is undetectable until someone discovers its effects.

Damages of Identity Theft on Individual

The individual damage of identity theft on victims is high, often leading to large debt and unresolvable credit damage. In addition to the real loss, psychological damage often accompanies identity theft victims leading to feelings of paranoia that can exist for years. Preventative steps can limit this loss and help protect the individual from this damage but only if individuals take steps before the theft occurs.

Damages of Identity Theft on Society

The financial services industry suffers from a two-fold cost for identity theft. Banks have stepped in during many cases to help individuals recover some of their loss, often shouldering the burden of the debt themselves. Individuals forced to file for bankruptcy, after an identity theft crime, move their debt to government agencies. This surplus of debt is necessary to protect individuals from identity theft; however, it creates a debt that society becomes responsible to pay. Additionally, the rise in identity theft has resulted in a significant number of man-hours spent trying to prevent identity theft. This rise in man-hours results in an increased fiscal responsibility shouldered by the financial services industry.

Violations on Individual Rights

The general principle for limiting individual rights is to limit these rights the moment they interfere with another person’s individual rights. Effective government protection for identity theft would require a more open allowance for government agencies to monitor fiscal transactions. The blind quality of computer scrutiny would decrease the real violation to individual rights. Opponents find any level of open government scrutiny a violation to our privacy rights and point to any level of relaxation of privacy rights as a rewriting our the nature of those rights. Any such rewriting of those rights opens the possibility of future violations based on the same logic.

The Damage to Personal Rights

Privacy rights exist within a set of liberties defined as natural rights. As such, these specific rights are absolute with the single exception of instances where the individual directly violates existing laws. Relaxing these rights, for any reason, would constitute a redefinition of these rights and set a precedent for dissolving civil liberties in the name of preemptive law enforcement. This redefinition is an expensive price to pay for a protection that is currently available in the private sector without the need to surrender such liberties to the government.

Monitoring Techniques

Agencies can monitor this electronically, meaning a blind supervision of financial transactions where a computer searches for trends of discrepancies or by establishing transaction ceilings where they criticize any transaction over a set amount for legitimacy. The former would not be a perfect solution but could significantly cut down on the number of identity thefts. The latter would slow down transactions.

The easiest way to protect yourself against identity theft is to closely monitor your accounts and credit reports. Keep credit cards, pin numbers, and ID cards in a safe place and never share your personal information with others.

Copyright Kristyn Hammond. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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