Identity theft is the most prolific crimes committed today and it knows no boundaries. So by now most people know of the problem but are unaware of how it all got started.
It's basically what's old is new again thus the teaser ID Theft R&R??? Which stands for Retrospective and Rebirth.
Its started back in the 60's which was a time of conflict and change the Vietnam war and Civil Right protesters and the Underground mainly SDS and the Weathermen among others.
During this time to avoid the military draft you could goto Canada,Mexico or to college. But a cheaper and more eficient option arose by assuming a new identity and staying in this country.
This was easily done by reading the obituaries and finding one close to your age getting the vital info and applying for the birth certificate from there drivers liscense and so on.
There are still a few left from this era as from time to time you'll see on the news an arrest of someone who disappeared 25 yrs ago. The war ended in 1975 and so the threat of the draft ended so there was a brief respite. In the background at this time was the Internet which was a sleeping giant waiting to be stirred.
It was now 1985 and PC's were now penetrating the home and the Net was beginning to be commercialized. Identity theft was once again making a comeback but it was still largely an one on one event. Finally reaching 1990 the net was beginning to flourish with the infancy of the dot-com boom. The world is now truly becoming a global village. By 1996 ther were in excess of 300,000 annual reports of this crime and it's beeen growing daily. Like anything else in the world it reflects all of it's community both good and bad. Identity theft was now splitting into 2 main camps.
The first being 1 on 1 events where you come into contact with the theft personally either through physical contact or lost personal info,phishing, or spyware on your computer.
The second is wholesale theft of info by hackers breaking into bank and credit card companies where thousands to millions of people are compromised all at once.
As recently as a few years ago the technique of dumpster diving was perfected where you'd go to a dumpster behind a business bank ,dept store ,restaurant and look for cc reciepts. But this has now been replaced by spyware which is software which invades your computer to access all your acct info and phishing which is an email sent to you representing maybe your bank or cc company requesting acct. info to which if you respond lose your money.
To check or elimiminate spyware from your computer goto spybot.com which is an excellent free tool. As for phishing a good rule of thumb is if contacted and not absolutey sure it's a company or person you do business with just hang up or you can call them back so you know who your in contact with.
If you do become a victim it can be likened to entering a blackhole as you go in but never really sure when you'll get out. The personal costs can be excessive and and can take years to clear up.
On a positive note I see whole new industries popping up to combat the problem with plenty of growth for them in the future.
Anti-spyware, biometrics, insurance, prevention, and detection to name a few.