Identity Theft Study
Interesting study: “Identity Fraud Trends and Patterns: Building a Data-Based Foundation for Proactive Enforcement,” October 2007. It’s long, but at least read the executive summary. Or, even shorter, this Associated Press story:
Researchers reviewed 517 cases closed by the Secret Service between 2000 and 2006. Two-thirds of the cases were concentrated in the Northeast and South and there were 933 defendants. The Federal Trade Commission has said about 3 million Americans have their identities stolen annually.
The study found that 42.5 percent of offenders were between the ages of 25 and 34. Another 18 percent were between the ages of 18 and 24. Two-thirds of the identity thieves were male.
Nearly a quarter of the offenders were born outside the United States.
Eighty percent of the cases involved an offender working solo or with a single partner, the report found.
While identity thieves used a wide combination of methods, fewer than 20 percent of the crimes involved the Internet. The most frequently used non-technological method was the rerouting of mail through change of address cards. Other prevalent non-technological methods were mail theft and dumpster diving.
Of the 933 offenders, 609 said they initiated their crime by stealing fragments of personal identifying information, as opposed to stealing entire documents, such as bank cards or driver’s licenses.
Most of the offenses were committed by non-employees who victimized strangers. Employee insiders were the offenders in just one-third of the 517 cases. When an employee did commit identity theft, the offenders were employed in a retail business in two out of every five instances, the report said. Stores, gas stations, car dealerships, casinos, restaurants, hotels, doctors and hospitals were all considered retail operations in the study.
In about a fifth of the cases, the employee worked in the financial services industry.
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