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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

Identity Theft and Fraud (DOJ)
Practical advice from the Fraud Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice.
(Last checked 07/06/17)

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 07/06/17)

Identify Theft Page (Federal Trace Commission)
(Last checked 07/06/17)

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 07/06/17)

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 07/06/17)

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 07/06/17)

Articles, Speeches, or Publications

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 07/06/17)

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 07/06/17)

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


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