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Stealing from the Internet

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  1. 1. STEALING FROM ...
  2. 2. WHAT IS INTERNET THEFT? Internet theft is a broad term that refers to any type of theft involving the use of the internet. These are also known as computer crimes or violations of cyberspace laws. Since the internet is a relatively new phenomenon, the laws governing internet usage may vary widely according to region or state. However, the following types of internet activity can be classified under the broad umbrella term of “internet theft”:  Phishing scams  Bulk e-mail scams  Online piracy (illegally downloading music, videos, etc.)  Internet fraud scams  Identity theft accomplished over the web  Criminal activity associated with social networking sites  Wi-Fi connection issues (i.e., using another persons’ account to perpetrate a theft)
  3. 3. LEGALITY OF ''STEALING'' WIFI There is no uniform federal law that explicitly allows or prohibits using a neighbor’s Wi-Fi in the United States. The only federal law that perhaps addresses the issue is the criminal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which applies to anyone who “intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access.” That law was first enacted in 1986, however, before Wi-Fi became prevalent. Courts have not yet decided whether the definitions of “access” and “authorization” make common Wi-Fi theft a federal crime.  In the absence of clear federal legislation, different states have legislated and enforced (or not legislated or enforced) this issue in different ways. There have been a few notable instances where prosecutors have actually enforced minor penalties against Wi-Fi “thieves.”  For example, there was a Michigan man who used the Wi-Fi network of a neighboring coffee shop without permission. Similarly, a Florida man was forced to pay a small fine for stealing his neighbor’s connection. In New York, unauthorized use of a computer network is considered a misdemeanor, but the regulation is rarely enforced by police or prosecutors.  So, in short, while there are possibly laws on the books in your state that could make Wi-Fi stealing a crime, authorities rarely seem to police or enforce them.
  4. 4. WHAT DO IDENTITY THIEVES DO?  Stealing your personal information is every identity thief’s objective, and for the goal of financial gain at your loss. Thieves steal personal information from wallets, purses, and computers, or through the Internet in a variety of ways (but ways that can be stopped with safe computing).  Here are some of the things thieves do:  Steal your personal information from your mail box or purse or wallet, or while you’re working on the internet.  Change your billing address. They can do this two ways: using a “change of address” form obtained from the post office or enclosed in your credit card bill (that they stole from your mail box). Then, they charge items to your account. Even though you stop receiving your credit card bill, it might take you a while to notice that. By the time you do, your account could be maxed out.  Open new credit card accounts in your name using your Social Security number. The accounts rack up charges you don’t know about, go unpaid, and show up as late payments on your credit report.