The Ugly History of Identity Theft

Understanding the History of Identity Theft

Believe it or not, the history of identity theft did not begin with the advent of the Internet. Identity theft was indeed here long before the Internet began, but was much less common. Nowadays, identity theft is more Internet-related, but that wasn’t always the case.

Back in the Beginning

Back in the days before identity theft was a “white collar crime” it was actually a violent crime. Back at the beginning of the history of identity theft, if you wanted to steal someone’s identity, you had to kill them for it. Then you’d just assume their identity and walk around as if you were that person. Nowadays, identity theft is much less dangerous.

Identity Theft via the Phone

Some of the first cases of white collar identity theft in the history of identity theft occurred via the phone. Identity theft thieves would contact victims claiming to offer them credit or prizes or some other incentive. They would just need some personal information to verify their identity, and would then use that information to steal the victim’s identity.

The victim would never see the credit card, loan or prize but they would see their credit ruined and their good name scarred forever.

Dumpster Diving

At the same time that the history of identity theft was growing via phone, identity theft thieves were performing a task called dumpster diving. Dumpster diving involves digging through the trash for credit card statements and/or bank statements and using the information found there to steal someone’s identity. Dumpster diving still occurs even to this very day.

Enter the Internet

Then came the widespread use of the Internet, and the history of identity theft became high-tech. No longer did identity theft thieves have to resort to phone calls or dumpster diving, they could gather the information they needed by phishing online. By using the Internet as their preying grounds, identity theft thieves have increased their crime rates and the number of their victims.

So while the history of identity theft isn’t a pretty one, it does give us the knowledge we need to prevent ourselves from becoming victims of the increasingly common crime.

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