One thing that annoys me is when people mix terms and use them in the wrong sense. This can lead to confusion at best but in most likelihood undermines the message you are trying to deliver. A classic phrase that gets abused by many people, especially in the press, is “identity theft”. Too often it gets used to describe items that it should not be used for.
- If your credit card is used by someone else to purchase something online without your consent that is credit card fraud – not identity theft.
- If money is taken out of your bank account by someone who has managed to get your online credentials then that in my book is theft.
- If someone uses your identity to create and live a new life then that is identity theft.
A good example of identity theft is taken from the current news headlines. Radovan Karadzic, the recently arrested war criminal, lived his live on the run using the identity of a 66 year old peasant, Dragan Dabic. The real Dragan Dabic’s life has been thrown into turmoil by reporters chasing him for his story and by trying to undo the damage to his life that this has had. Apparently the ID card used by Karadzic was an exact copy of Mr. Dabic’s except for the photograph.
Identity theft is a serious crime and can have lasting consequences so lets try and make sure that we do not undermine the seriousness of it by using it incorrectly.