Essay Sample on Online Identity Theft: A Growing Threat in the Digital World

Published: 2023-06-13
Essay Sample on Online Identity Theft: A Growing Threat in the Digital World
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Criminal law Internet Cyber security
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1519 words
13 min read


As the world evolves, the use of the internet and online social media increases among different people irrespective of age, gender, socio-economic class, race, or sexual orientation. With the increasing prevalence of online utilization in almost every sphere of socio-cultural and economic life, different groups of people become vulnerable to online identity theft (Irshad & Soomro, 2018). According to the Federal Trade Commission, American has experienced a rise in cybercriminal identity theft with the increasing millennium populace. Newman and McNally (2005) account that the extent and pattern of online identity theft actively vary along with different phenomena. The scrutiny of the problem increases due to massive negligence among different demographics (Gercke, 2012). For instance, children post massive vital and sensitive information on distinct social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. Like the U.S, many western nations have substantial internet penetration that makes victims very vulnerable to online attacks and cybercrime, such as internet identity thefts (Reep-van den & Junger, 2018).

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Victims of Identity Theft in the Internet

Today more than 3.5 billion people across the globe use internets predominantly different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Tumblr, and YouTube (Irshad & Soomro, 2018). Social media has created a platform that allows cybercriminals to steal and intentionally misuse people's information online (Irshad & Soomro, 2018). The subscription to different social media platforms often requires the use of personal information to allow accurate updates and interaction, which consequently places people in extensive vulnerable positions to cybercrimes such as hacking and identity theft.

More than 20 million Americans fall victim to online identity fraud every year, incurring substantial losses (Newman & McNally 2005). Due to constant interaction on the internet, identity crime affects all people irrespective of gender, age, or race. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, identity theft has been ranked as one of the prevalent and common crime in contemporary American society, which costs the country extensive resources (Irshad & Soomro, 2018). For instance, in 2014, identity thieves accumulated approximately $16 billion from different innocent citizens across the country (Gercke, 2012). Despite the increase in online identity theft across America, many cybercriminals target specific vulnerable groups. For instance, the victim's demographics dominate the minority groups reported as experiencing a higher rate of online identity theft (Newman & McNally 2005). Unlike the predominant white populace, many people of color fall victim to the online scam and identity theft, which gives the hackers massive access into their lives to use the stolen identity and personal data to commit a crime or wipe out victims' financial accounts.

Additionally, the rate of identity theft increases among victims with higher income. Since most cybercriminals target gaining financial resources from their victims, individuals from the middle and high-income class are actively vulnerable and highly the targets of identity theft. Cybercriminals also use continuous phishing and malicious software to track and access the computers of people of higher wealth, such as managers, CEOs, private business people, and right government officials (Newman & McNally 2005). For instance, in 2001, a dishwasher in New York used internet fraud to steal personal identities of celebrity billionaires like George Soros and Steven Spielberg, which enabled him to access millions of dollars from the celebrity's accounts (Newman & McNally 2005). The high-profile individuals in modern society frequently utilize their devices and computers to keep sensitive information such as financial records. Since technology actively discourages the traditional bookkeeping and writing of data, computer notes provide ease of accessibility to different socio-economic elements (Gercke, 2012). However, they also make people be targets of online identity theft.

Consequently, deconstructing the victim demographics in gender distinctions, more males are prone to internet identity theft than females as they are actively careless with their personal information such as the credit card information and also the social activities that many males engage in places them on the active radar of the cybercriminals (Newman & McNally 2005). For instance, unlike women, many med use different online platforms that require credit card information and registration, while women only use the online shopping platform. From online video games, shopping, movies to online services increases their vulnerabilities.

Copes et al. (2010) contend individual from houses headed by women and has more children also face the danger of becoming victims of online identity theft. For example, single mothers are often under pressure balancing professional life with domestic life, which consequently causes lest restriction or supervision on the children's online activities (Gercke, 2012). Children can easily and unknowingly upload personal information or access unsecure platforms that lacks the "HTTPS" prefix. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also affirms that today, children are at more risk of becoming victims. Copes et al. (2010) add that approximately 65% of the predominant online identity theft victims are young people between the age of 20 and 44 years old, with more than 29% of children under the age of 20 years already suffering from the negative impact of identity theft.

The slow detection of the nature of identity theft results in an increasingly negative impact since both victims and local authorities discover the theft after the damage had already occurred (Gercke, 2012). For instance, for financial identity theft, individuals or businesses only realize the crime after an extended period and after their resources or funds are depleted from the respective accounts (Gercke, 2012). With people continuing to share their confidential information on the internet, they easily expose themselves to identity thieves that use their data to extort, exploit, and steal their vital possessions. While different people experience identity theft, the businesses are not left behind as they also share in the massive losses caused by anonymous theft of a client's personal information.

Cost of Identity Theft

Identifying cyber identity theft continues to become sophisticated and challenging for contemporary law enforcers to detect. According to Chawki and Wahab (2006), while law enforcers have the physical ability to control and prevent the perpetrator from committing the active real-time crimes, online identity theft still presents a massive challenge, which results in extensive costs. The real-world criminal investigation only focuses on the crime scene, which rarely exists in the case of online financial identity theft. Moreover, Copes et al. (2010) ascertain that the cost of both individual and companies' massive identity thefts result in significant expenses. For instance, an identity theft victim actively succumbs to more than $739 solving disputes related to cyber identity theft for the existing account and $951 for damages for the new accounts Copes et al. (2010). The cost of solving such disputes not only affects individuals but also extends to the local and national government expenditures. Nevertheless, with the increase of financial online identity theft, many institutions and organizations suffer extensive financial loss as they bear the consequences of clients' identity theft (Newman & McNally 2005). For instance, when online scammers steal the social security numbers, credit card number, address and sensitive personal information of the client and use them to clear customers bank account, many banks often have the moral and corporate obligation to compensate the clients.


Online or cyber identity theft continues to dominate contemporary society. Irrespective of the type, form, and nature of the cybercrime strategy, many people remain vulnerable to the social vice, which results in diverse consequences. In modern America, individuals from minority ethnic groups have become more vulnerable compared to white Americans. As the victim demographics critically focuses on the reported cases across the nation, many individuals from the middle and high economic class, who earn substantial income have been continuously a susceptible population and a target to financial online identity theft in the country. Both high earners and millionaires in the country suffer from losses on an annual basis. Consequently, unlike women, men are highly targeted and lose the credit card information to the online attackers that use them to access different financial platforms with more than 65% of adults targeted in the nation, children are also easy prey since they unknowingly update sensitive nd confidential information on various social media platforms and use unsecure websites allowing hackers to access their data. Therefore, with the extensive costs to solving disputes related to online identity theft, many victims irrespective of race, gender, age, or social class must take active care and uphold viable preventive measures to avoid losing personal information to the wrong people online.


Chawki, M., & Abdel Wahab, M. (2006). Identity theft in cyberspace: Issues and solutions. Lex electronica. 11(1).

Copes, H., Kerley, K. R., Huff, R., & Kane, J. (2010). Differentiating identity theft: An exploratory study of victims using a national victimization survey. Journal of criminal justice, 38(5), 1045-1052.

Gercke, M. (2012). Understanding cybercrime: Phenomena, challenges and legal response. ITU Telecommunication development bureau. 15.

Irshad, S., & Soomro, T. R. (2018). Identity Theft and Social Media. International journal of computer science and network security, 18(1), 43-55.

Newman, G. R., & McNally, M. M. (2005). Identity theft literature review. National institute of justice.

Reep-van den Bergh, C. M., & Junger, M. (2018). Victims of cybercrime in Europe: a review of victim surveys. Crime science, 7(1), 5.

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