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Essay: Essay on identity theft

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Your identity is said to be the key to your life. Once it is stolen, you will have a hard time rectifying it. Identity theft is a White-collar crime that is on the rise (Bazley, Tom ,2008). Many people have fell victim of identity theft and many still may not know because it can go undetected for months without knowledge ( Coenen, Tracy, 2008). Identity theft is defined as when someone uses your personal information via social security card, medical records, driver???s license or anything that contains your personal information, for their own expense. Given the opportunity, the thieves will take their chances to satisfy their needs. According to the Bureau of Justice???s statistics, 11.7 million people were victims of identity theft ranging from ages 16 and up in 2006 and 2008(BJS.gov). Identity theft can take place at any time. It can happen when giving your personal information over the phone, filling out job applications and even leaving your cell/ laptop unlocked. In order to understand the concept of identity theft one must understand the problem, the theory and the implications.
The problem
To understand identity theft one must understand the problem. Identity theft is a White-collar crime that is considered to be a harmless crime because no physical bodily harm is done to the victim and it is on the rise. In the book ???Myths That Cause Crime???, the authors give ten myths that give so called reason to crime. The two myths that I would like to focus on are ???Most crime is committed by the poor??? and ???Law makes people behave???(Jesilow and Peinsky). In the first myth, Jesilow and Peinsky talked about how people in the poor community were born to be criminals and how they were forced to do things to have equal opportunity like the middle class. While in the second myth they talked about how some people just follow the rules because they do not want to reap the punishment. This brings me back to the problem of Identity theft. There are many forms of identity theft which include business; insurance, financial, Social Security and Child Identity just to name a few.
Most people steal because of three things which are the opportunity, motivation and rationalization. (Coenen, Tracy 2008). The opportunity part is when the identity thief sees fit to take the chance to steal people???s personal information. The motivation part is the satisfaction of needing to steal. The final part is rationalization. This is the choice that identity thieves make and they feel that they are not doing anything lawfully wrong. In the Javelin Strategy & Research it states that there were 13.1 million people that were victims of identity theft in 2013(javelinstrategy.com). Identity theft is a social issue because it does not only affect individual people but it affects the economy as a whole. The Federal Trade Commission reports that 25.6 million people fall victim to identity theft in 2011 (FTC.gov). Now if there is a victim there must be a cost to fix the damage. It takes a lot for a victim of identity theft to reclaim their life back. Transunion.com shows it takes the average victim 500 and 30 hours to resolve their theft claims. The FTC also specifies that the common age for identity theft victims was forty-one years of age (FTC.gov).
The theory
The theory that can help give some insight on identity theft is the strain theory by Robert K. Merton and the general strain theory by Robert Agnew. Merton strain theory originally named Anomie theory was driven from Emile Durkheim???s research on humans being insatiable and primal creatures (Gabbidon, S. L. 2010). Merton theory focuses on why people commit to deviant behavior in crimes. There is a culture goal or standers that society wants to meet. Merton???s work also place people in five categories which are Conformity, innovation, ritualism and rebellion. In this case identity thieves would be placed as innovator because they break the rules of the law because of limited sources to gain success and achieve the American dream (Gabbidon, S. L. 2010). For example, in ???Investigating White-collar Crime???, they talked about a man named Charles Ponzi who was a con artist. Ponzi conned thousands of New England residents by making them invest in a postage stamp scheme. Ponzi took advantage in the differences between U.S. and foreign money to buy and sell international mail coupons (Bazley, Tom, 2008).A research called a tacking: a form of educational neglect it shows how three students Tommy, Greg, and Maria are placed in groups based off of a standardized test that sees if the student is ready for school. Tommy who is a white student scored a 71 percent which meant he was ready for school, Greg the black student scored 69 percent was not ready for school and Maria a Latino scored 76 percent and was put in the group with Greg because she was shy person and English was not her first language. During the next several years, Tommy, Greg, and Maria will become less alike. Due to the fact that Maria scored a high score but was placed in the low scoring group her performance will decrease over time to the levels of the other children in her group. Tommy, Greg and Maria school experiences will be different even their Teachers will have a different outlook on them. Throughout their school year their test scores will reflect what each group learn and how they feel about themselves. The research shows that the students will develop contrasting aspirations, goals, attitudes, beliefs about their selves because of the test scores and the group they were put in (Bazley, Tom ,2008). This research shows Greg and Maria will drop out of school to partake in delinquent behavior which can lead up to unemployment, crimes, poverty living or in jail. Research has shown that there are disadvantages on students that score higher on their test then students who score low on their test (Bazley, Tom, 2008). Schools today are still using the tracking system and due to this many students are dropping out of school because they feel like they will never be able to reach the other students learning levels so to choose to go to crime because they have a batter opportunity of getting what they want in life (Decker, S. H., & Barlow, H. D. 2010). The strain theory focuses more on the low class community because they have the same goals as the upper class but they don???t have the means to reach the goals like the upper class (Agnew, R. 2012). In ???Criminology and Public Policy: Putting Theory to Work???, it talked about Robert Agnew founder of the general strain theory. Agnew talked about how some strain put more pressure on people to commit crime like the fact of being mad, frustrated and losing their jobs. It also goes on to talk about how some people don???t commit crime because of their social bonds to their family, commit to school and their beliefs to the laws (Agnew, R. 2012). This theory leads a lot of people to crime because of all the issues people have and if they are not bought up in a good surround and have norms and values then they feel like that have to go commit crime in order to feel like they still have some type of control (Decker, S. H., & Barlow, H. D. (2010).
Use the theory to explain the problem
When it comes to identity theft people feel like they are in a stained or stressful situation that they have to make money in order to reach the American dream of being wealthy. Usually identity thieves feel like that don???t have to work a normal job like normal people do because they feel like if you leave your information out for someone to get why not use that opportunity to get free money on spend it on them. Identity thieves have no social bond to society because they will do anything to satisfy their needs (Agnew, R. 2012). For example I come from a family that has a strong education back ground and strong work ethic which mean education and work are very important and that makes me not want to mess up my success on reach my goal unlike a person that comes from a family that has nothing to offer to them they might feel that they have to steal to feel like they are equal and that no one is above them. In order to change people from committing or placing those in a situation to go to a criminal life there should be implications put in place to help take the stain off people. One implication should be community centers in every community so everyone can get to know one another and also they can help another in cases someone in the community is less fortunate. For example if family in the community has no money to buy food the community center could help raise money or food to give to that family. The second implication could be in the schools. Most schools have honor programs for students that are excelling in school but what about the ones that are not doing so well. There should be some type of programs that motives students to want to do better and have the same chances as the honor students. All student do not come from the same back ground so you have those students that have high goals, beliefs and norms that they want to accomplish but you also have those students that come from poor back grounds that has low self-esteem, no goals in life and no value of their education. Just like the schools reward the students that perform well they should reward students that are not by motivating with a second chance program. In this program the teacher can set goals for them to reach and if they reach it they can get bonus points on computer time. Every student needs a little motivation to do well in school just like the TCAP rallies that go on in schools around Tennessee. The third implication is having a good support system at home, school, or work. Having a good support system will reduce the strain and stress of a person because that support is there to help them with whatever they need. For example, teenagers that like to sell drugs and partake of drugs could use that support to help them to get away from that life style. If people have a good bond with people they love or society they would be less like to commit criminal crimes because they have the pressure of trying to make everyone happy so they would not be able to make any mistake.
Now implications on identity theft itself can help a lot of people from being the next victim of it. First implication would be to protect your personal information about yourself. For instance, cut up old credit cards that are not in use anymore, keep personal documents in a safe place in your house and do not give out your password to anyone. Most likely identity thieves are the one that are close to you and that makes it very easy for them to get your information because you trust them but they tend to abuse that trust ( Coenen, Tracy, 2008). The second implications would be checking your credit score as often as you can because detecting identity theft is not easy. 25.4 percent are found by accident, 20.2 percent are by audits and 3.8 percent are notified by the police. One way to fix this is opt in the options of having the bank to notify if the person authorizes the purchase if it???s over the set amount ( Coenen, Tracy, 2008). Also you could freeze your account if you do become a victim of identity theft. Last implications are to watch out for scams like unknown numbers calling about your banking information, shopping on unfamiliar websites and mail scams. If a person every come across any scams similar to these they should call the Federal Trade Commission and report all the information that is need to help knock down identity theft scams. All people do not come from the same back ground and every one does not have the easy life to live but that does not give someone the right to steal someone else identity. Every has the same opportunity to have the same goals in life but some people have their own mean on how to achieve that goal. There should be though laws on people that steal other people identity because they are not the one coming out pocket to pay and clear their names. Not only does the person have to be effect by the decisions of that identity thief be the economy has to suffer as well. Many big businesses like target are victims of data breach all the time around the holidays which cost customers to leave their business and costing them to bring in more money because customers are afraid of their personal information being linked out. If the banks and stores would come up with a better system to protect their customers it would make it harder for thieves to steal and just maybe they would have to find another way to make a living like actually getting a legit job. The strain theory is based off on the action and the feeling of people so if those things could be fixed maybe there wouldn???t be so many stressed out people, people living in poverty and people feeling like they have to be like the next person. I feel like in order to cut the strain theory this thing called social standers need to be changed. There should not be any differences in the low class and the upper class because everyone goals, values, beliefs are the same we all just want the same thing in like and that is wealth. It???s just some people have their own ways of getting what they want and the methods they use to get it and on the another you have some people that actually goes out to work hard for what they want because they feel like everyone should play their part to have success in their life. If the strain theory is a cause of why people commit crime then theses people need to see that there are people out in society doing the same thing they are doing but they abide by the laws because they fear that they will lose everything they word so hard for as to the ones that already lost everything they ever had in life.

Agnew, R. (2012). Reflection on ???A Revised Strain Theory of Delinquency???. Social Forces, 91(1), 33-38.

Bazley, Tom. Investigating White Collar Crime. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.

Bryant, C. D. (2011). The Routledge Handbook of Deviant Behaviour. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Broussard, C., & Joseph, A. L. (1998). Tracking: A form of educational neglect? (Undetermined). Children & Schools, 20(2), 110.

Coenen, Tracy. Essentials of Corporate Fraud. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Print.

Decker, S. H., & Barlow, H. D. (2010). Criminology and Public Policy : Putting Theory to Work. Philadelphia, Pa: Temple University Press.

Gabbidon, S. L. (2010). Criminological Perspectives on Race and Crime. New York, NY: Routledge.

Pepinsky, Harold E., and Paul Jesilow. Myths That Cause Crime. Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks, 1984. Print.




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