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August 12, 2009

Identity theft as new form of domestic violence

"Today, there are increasing numbers of cases involving identity theft and domestic abuse. Domestic violence and stalking victims often fall prey to a form of identity theft which is often referred to by experts and prosecutors as identity theft as abuse, a subset of cyberstalking.

Identity Theft as Abuse is unique from traditional identity theft because instead of the intent and purpose being for financial gain, domestic abusers utilize these tactics in order to continue to have power and control over their victims.

Domestic violence abusers armed with their victims personal identifying information often apply for credit cards, magazine subscriptions, e-mail accounts, create web sites including myspace and facebook accounts and use the victims identifying information to reek havoc upon their lives-often causing damage to the victims credit and reputation both of which are very difficult to restore once they are lost.

Cases involving identity theft as abuse were often ignored by the courts and law enforcement until now; primarily thanks to the hard work of the prosecutors involved in the Peck case of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin court of appeals affirmed the conviction against Peck providing a new hope for victims of cyberstalking and in particular victims of identity theft as abuse - the majority of which are domestic violence and stalking victims."

I heard a story recently of someone whose identity thief opened a facebook page and made it look like it was the victim's page. The identity thief then posted derogatory and embarrassing information on the page in an attempt to place the victim in a bad light. This type of identity theft will only occur more and more until the social media sites (i.e. myspace, facebook, twitter, etc.) come up with some way to prevent the stealing of their members' identities.

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