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Criminal Justice Resources :

Identity Theft

Related topics include fraud and cybercrime.

Identity theft is a crime which many computer industry observers are predicting will be a major problem in the early twenty first century. It involves the theft of personal identification information such as DIGITAL CERTIFICATES, PASSWORDS, and PINS in order to use them for some criminal purpose. There is an extensive amount of research being carried out on BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEMS which aim to provide virtually foolproof identification schemes. Source: Identity Theft entry from A Dictionary of the Internet, Oxford Reference Online, Feb. 11, 2003.

Identity theft is the deliberate assumption of another person's identity, usually to gain access to their credit or frame them for some crime. Less commonly, it is to enable illegal immigration, terrorism, espionage or changing identity permanently. It may also be a means of blackmail, especially if medical privacy or political privacy has been breached, and revealing the activities undertaken by the thief under the name of the victim would have serious consequences like loss of job or marriage. Visit the Identity Theft entry from the Wikipedia for more information.

President Bush "signed a tough new identity theft bill Thursday that sets mandatory jail time for people convicted of stealing someone else's identity," CNN.com reports. The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act "creates the charge of aggravated identity theft, which carries a required two-year prison term," but "when identity theft is connected with a terrorism case, such as providing a terrorist with a false passport, the mandatory prison term is five years."
Source: CNNMoney, July 15, 2004.

Consumers are especially vulnerable to credit card fraud and identity theft during the holidays when stores are more crowded and people are rushed and distracted, she said. Identity theft can happen in a number of ways -- through a stolen wallet, an unscrupulous employee working at a business with your information on file, and Internet scams called phishing or pharming that try to get you to reveal personal information on a link in an e-mail.
The Federal Trade Commission found in 2003 that nearly 10 million people became victims of identity fraud and that 27.3 million victims were identified in the prior five years. Identity theft costs consumers about $5 billion a year, and financial institutions lose about $48 billion a year. Victims on average paid $1,400 and spent 600 hours to reclaim their credit and identity, reports the FTC Identity Theft Resource Center. Source: Greta Guest, "Holidays bring on ID theft, Detroit Free Press, Nov. 12, 2005.

Identity theft is defined in the report as credit card thefts, thefts from existing accounts, misuse of personal information, and multiple types at the same time. Highlights of Identity Theft, 2005, include the following: *About 1.6 million households experienced theft of existing accounts other than a credit card (such as a banking account), and 1.1 million households discovered misuse of personal information (such as social security number). *Ten percent of the households with incomes of $75,000 or higher experienced identity theft; that was about twice the percentage of households earning less than $50,000. *Across all types of identity theft, the average amount lost per household was $1,620.
Source: Identity Theft, 2005, Bureau of Justice Statistics

Web Sites | Articles and Publications | Telephone Hotlines

Web Sites

CardCops (Identity Theft)
Hacker attacks and identity theft have become huge problems in the information age, enough to make even the most carefree individual a tad paranoid. Last year, Visa and MasxterCard reported that fraud losses topped $1 billion. The U.S. Justice department says 700,000 Americans are victims of identity theft every year. CardCops lists more than 100,000 stolen credit card numbers gathered from Internet chat rooms where thieves have been checking to determine whether the numbers are still good to use. The numbers are typically stolen by hackers who break into databases of Web commerce sites. Sometimes, though, con artists use what they call "social engineering" to trick unsuspecting computer users into providing card numbers by calling people at random and pretending to be a representative from the bank or credit card company. Source: Detroit Free Press Webguide, July 14, 2002, p.6E.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

As part of a 3-year partnership between the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Bank of America, www.IDSafety.org is designed to help both consumers and law enforcement officials prevent and report identity crime, investigate perpetrators, and respond effectively to victims.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft (FTC)
How can someone steal your identity? By co-opting your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information for their own use. In short, identity theft occurs when someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. Learn what steps you can take to prevent identity theft courtest of the Federal Trade Commission.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft (MSU)
Compilation of resources by the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identify Theft (ODL)
A compilation of resources by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft (SSA)
How do I report identity theft, fraud or misuse of my Social Security number or medicare card?
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft and Fraud (DOJ)
Practical advice from the Fraud Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft : Can Congress give Americans better protection?
Assembling a new identity used to be the specialty of spies and master criminals. Now, ordinary crooks are acquiring consumers' personal information — Social Security numbers, addresses, mother's maiden names and other data — and opening new accounts in other peoples' names. Nearly 10 million consumers are affected annually by lost or stolen data at a cost to the economy of $53 billion. Moreover, victims spend almost 300 million hours a year trying to clear their names and re-establish good credit ratings. Congress and state legislatures are looking at ways to stop identity theft, but financial and data-collection companies argue any solutions that slow down the business of buying and selling personal data would hurt the economy. Meanwhile, in the biggest in a series of recent security breaches, Citigroup announced on June 6 that computer tapes containing personal data on 3.9 million consumers were missing. Peter Katel, CQ Researcher, June 10, 2005. Access restricted to subscribers.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft : In the Spotlight
NCJRS announces a new "In the Spotlight" on identity theft. This online resource provides information on the topics of identity theft and phishing, including links to publications, statistics, legislation, funding, and training resources. (NCJRS)
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft Resource Center
The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is a nonprofit program that was formed in December 1999 by Linda Foley and is an affiliated program of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and UCAN. ITRC’s mission is to research, analyze and distribute information about the growing crime of identity theft. It serves as a resource and advisory center of identity theft information for consumers, victims, law enforcement, the business and financial sectors, legislators, media and governmental agencies. It continues to expand as a cornerstone in the fight against identity theft.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft Resources (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)
The PRC is a nonprofit consumer information, research, and advocacy program, based in San Diego, California. We were established in 1992 at the University of San Diego Center for Public Interest Law. The Identity Theft Resources section reflects the many years we have provided assistance and direction to victims of this crime. We provide information for victims on how to recover from identity theft (Fact Sheet 17a), as well as information on how to avoid becoming a victim. We invite victims to tell their own stories. And we discuss the causes of and solutions to this epidemic crime.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Michigan State Police
Identity Theft Unit
The Identity Theft Unit of the Michigan State Police investigates and assists Federal and local law enforcement agencies and provides victims with resources to prevent further victimization.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Michigan State University Identity Theft Partnerships for Prevention
The Identity Theft University-Business Partnership at Michigan State University works in collaboration with business and industry to secure competitive and personal information and to prevent the theft of employees’ identities. Web site describes projects and provides web links to sites of interest.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

The Red Tape Chronicles
The Red Tape Chronicles is MSNBC.com’s effort to unmask government bureaucracy, corporate sneakiness and outright scam artists. The editor Bob Sullivan covers Internet scams and consumer fraud for MSNBC.com. He is the winner of multiple journalism awards for his coverage of online crime and is the author of the book Your Evil Twin: Behind the Identity Theft Epidemic.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

What to Do if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
Tips from the Michigan State University Identity Theft Partnerships for Prevention.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Articles, Speeches, or Publications

Beanie Baby Scams and Identity Thefts
There is a very large body of legitimate business and electronic commerce activity on the internet, but the web also is a location where one can easily fall victim to fraud and scams. A New York Times article discusses a number of swindling activities that are marketed either through websites or email messages. Online article by Michael Cooper from the September 22, 1999 issue of New York Times.
Also listed under Fraud.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Fighting Back Against Identity Theft (FTC)
This website is a one-stop national resource to learn about the crime of identity theft. It provides detailed information to help you Deter, Detect, and Defend against identity theft. While there are no guarantees about avoiding identity theft, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk and minimize the damage if a problem occurs....
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft
This guide addresses identity theft, describing the problem and reviewing factors that increase the risks of it. It then identifies a series of questions to help you analyze your local problem. Finally, it reviews responses to the problem, and what is known about them from evaluative research and police practice. Graeme Newman, 2004.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft: A Bibliography of Federal, State, Consumer and News Resources
By Sabrina I. Pacifici, LLRX, Feb. 17, 2003.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Identity Theft: Prevalence and Cost Appear to Be Growing
This March 2002 General Accounting Office (GAO) report to Congress contains the available statistical data on the growing crime of identity fraud. It presents data on the cost of identity theft to the financial services industry, to the victims, and to the Federal criminal justice system. The full-text of this 75 page report is available only in PDF.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

National Strategy To Combat Identity Theft
The COPS Office funded Johns Hopkins University and the Major Cities Chiefs Association to examine the issues surrounding identity theft and the challenges for police in responding to the problem. They explored these issues through a series of focus groups and surveys of police practitioners, prosecutors, victims and victims’ advocates, and the federal and private sectors. Using what they learned, they developed a national strategy for law enforcement. This report describes the components of the national strategy and their interrelationships, and includes best practices or innovative responses that help to illustrate each component. 2006.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Police Notebook : Introduction to Identity Theft
"Criminals don't always need sawed-off shotguns and ski masks to make a big haul — your social security number, or a pre-approved credit card application from your trash, could be all they need. Identity theft is the nation's fastest growing crime according to FBI statistics and identity theft/fraud is the fastest-growing category of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaints." The purpose of this "web presentation is to draw together and link identity-theft, Internet-fraud, and related scam-prevention information, gleaned from over a hundred government websites and online publications, into a single, useful online-primer that's educational, easy to navigate and graphically stimulating."
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Putting an End to Account-Hijacking Identity Theft
This study, published on December 14, 2004, presents the FDIC's findings on unauthorized access to financial institution accounts and how the financial industry and its regulators can mitigate these risks. 41pp.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft
(formerly: "ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name")
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), working with other government agencies and organizations, has produced this booklet to help you guard against and recover from identity theft. Can you completely prevent identity theft from occurring? Probably not, especially if someone is determined to commit the crime. But you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information wisely and cautiously.
(Last checked 02/26/13)

For additional materials on false personation, search Magic: The MSU Libraries Online Catalog.


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