Identity Theft

The modern world of computer technologies makes the impossible possible. For an ID to get stolen, one does not necessarily have to wonder in desolate places. In our age, when a digital identity is fully distinct from its real prototype, identity thefts have become widespread. If personal details (ID card data, banking details) get into the hands of criminals, the consequences are likely to be unpredictable: cash withdrawals from bank accounts, credits on your name, real estate sales or other unfair activities or criminal offences.
All phenomena related identity thefts involve personal data. Only a clear understanding what personal data means makes it possible to have control over the processes to help avoid potential risks related to identity thefts in daily life. 

What is personal data?

It is specified in the Law on Legal Protection of Personal Data of the Republic of Lithuania that personal data means mean any information relating to a natural person (data subject) who is known or who can be identified directly or indirectly by reference to such data as a personal identification number or one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity.
As the definition shows, data can mean both objective and subjective information, not even necessarily correct, in any form (letters, figures, sound, photographs, etc.), which is directly or indirectly related not only with the person’s private and family life but also with personal activities. Hence, in order to avoid identity thefts, vigilance is necessary.
The list of personal data is very long. ID thieves are interested in a wide range of your confidential information:
  • name
  • surname
  • personal ID number
  • signature
  • fingerprints
  • personal photograph
  • residence address
  • previous residence address
  • mother’s maiden name
  • employer’s name
  • telephone number
  • e-mail address
  • e-mails
  • bank account number
  • payment card details
  • information about your religious beliefs
  • information about your health (medicinal prescription)
  • personal computer data
  • IP address
  • names and surnames of your family members
  • details of deceased family members

Meaning of Identity Theft

Identity theft means using the identify data of another person (e.g., payment or credit card, social security certificate, passport data, etc.) for criminal purposes. Hence, a victim of ID theft in any case suffers negative consequences. 

In practice, ID theft methods have evolved into a separate area of fraud, which is most often classified into: 
  • traditional fraud in the physical space; 
  • modern technology fraud in the cyberspace. 

It should be noted that identity in the physical space is entirely different from identity in the cyberspace. In the physical space, persons prove their identity by personal documents. In the cyberspace, an identity may be replaced by a name and password:
  • A name means a contractual name of any object which identifies that object unambiguously. It should be unique in the system;
  • A password means a sequence of characters known only to the service provider and the service user, used by the service provider to authenticate the identity of the person who requests access.

It means that identity in the cyberspace is, in principle, considered identical to the login name and password and all security measures, for example, digital certificates, etc. correspond, in fact, to the person’s identity in the cyberspace. The verification of an identity has its advantages and shortcomings in both cases. 

As we handle personal data every day (withdraw cash from bank accounts, pay taxes, write applications, go to the doctor, download information from the internet, communicate in social networks, and engage in other different activities), the value of information is obvious, therefore, ID thieves are on the alert.