History Of Identity Theft

By: Adrian Kinley

In its earliest days the history of identity theft began with the imposter pretending to be someone he wasn't. In the days before photographic identification this was both a common and easy crime to commit. Your word and a signature (wether your own or not) were accepted as gospel.

Of course, as the world developed over the last century or so and photographic I.D. came into use the crime became .. even worse? The reason identity theft is on the increase today is because people assume in this day and age that they are perfectly safe from such a crime. How can someone pretend to be me when they look nothing like me seems to be the common trail of thought.

Unfortunately we have not learnt from the history of identity theft. The reason an imposter could get away with it back in "the good old days" was because no one had any reason to doubt that he wasn't who he said he was.

As for a signature, who looks at them and if they did would they know what they were looking at?

Having had my identity stolen and spending months researching the crime as I painstakingly restored my credit line I am often preaching to friends to be more careful. This preaching is sometimes accompanied by a demonstration of how we are assumed to be who we say we are.? It also gets me out of paying for dinner.

You may or may not want to try this but I have done it 4 times now and have yet to be queried. When paying the check in a restaurant I have, with her permission of course, handed over a credit or debit card belonging to my wife. I have signed the slip in my own name with no attempt to make it resemble my wife's signature. To the shock of our fellow dinner guests I have had no problems, not so much as a second glance!

Granted I needed to know my wife's pin number to use the card but still, the waiter or waitress did not even look close enough at the card to notice it said MRS and not MR or compare the signatures as a secondary precaution. I have even asked for ( just to show off to our guests you understand) and received cash back!

So what does this little demonstration prove? Well to me it proves that now, just like throughout the history of identity theft, our biggest problem is that humans by nature are a trusting breed. So when the nice girl on the phone at the loan company asks the caller for his social security number, it doesn't occur to her, or her superiors for that matter, that the number he just read out to her was in fact yours.... or worse than that, MINE!

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