As our economy continues to tank, holding an identity hostage becomes a common practice in our society to commit a quick cash fraud. Not only bad economy and rising fraud are interrelated but also as we move toward biometric technology to withdraw cash from our bank accounts or validate our identities on the Internet and corporate systems, not only taking a person hostage along with his identity will become more prevalent in our society but also hostage taking will be necessary in order to commit future identity crimes.
I heard on the news that a person was taken hostage and dragged to a cash machine in order to enter her access code and withdraw cash for the hostage taker. In fact, the criminal entered her car while stopped at a red light and asked her to drive to the ATM of her bank. I think that these types of crimes are easier to commit because they require less planning although they provide limited benefits as cash withdrawals have daily limits. I also think that these types of criminals also face higher risks and must be more desperate and courageous as they face real and present dangers such as being noticed and apprehended while committing the fraud. The smaller and lonely criminals who steal a person’s credit card to go shopping for themselves or to sell the products to others at discounted prices have to plan to some extent to first steal the credit card and then go shopping before the card is reported lost or stolen. On the other hand, the more sophisticated identity fraudsters who steal consumer information in batches to commit identity fraud worth millions of dollars, must be organized, plan extensively, and execute the plan expeditiously and precisely to make a big bang.
Back to holding an identity hostage, many believe that biometric identity verification systems will solve many of today’s identity management issues including identity validation and transaction authorization, however, I believe that cases of holding an identity hostage will increase as the identities are validated using the human body components for each transaction. You see, our credit cards can be stolen today to commit credit fraud or get cash using our access codes, but once a credit transaction is authorized using our body components like a finger print, then we must be present in whole or in part to facilitate the crime at least until our body components can also be counterfeited.
I also see two additional points worth covering here; first, I think as identity hostage holdup increases as a way to beat the biometric systems which will be widely used in the future, consumers will increasingly be held responsible for fraud damages, and second, in order to recover fraud damages, consumers must prove they were victims of identity hostage or otherwise everyone can claim the same innocence after committing the fraud. In today’s terms, how often do you see a person claiming his ATM code was stolen to get cash from his checking account and how believable is it to the banks and authorities? As far as I know, consumers today are fully responsible for all cash withdrawals from their bank accounts while using their debit cards and access codes.
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