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Identity Theft - A Research Review

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2007
18 pages

Based upon "Identity Theft Literature Review" (Graeme R. Newman and Megan M. McNally, July 2005), this online publication assesses what is known about identity theft and recommends areas that need further research.


The research found that identity theft generally involves three stages: acquisition of the identity information, the thief's use of the information for personal gain to the detriment of the victim of identity theft, and discovery of the identity theft. Evidence indicates that the longer it takes to discover the theft, the greater the loss incurred and the less likely it is that prosecution will be successful. Older persons and those with less education are less likely to discover the identity theft quickly and to report it after discovery. The research also found that access to personal information about potential victims and the anonymity the Internet offers would-be thieves are major facilitators of identity theft. Major topics on identity theft reviewed in this report are the definition of identity theft, the extent and patterns of identity theft, types of identity theft, recording and reporting identity theft, law enforcement issues and response, the cost of identity theft, and issues that need more research. Regarding the latter topic, the researchers recommend more research on the best ways to prevent identity theft crimes. Specifically, research should address practices and operating environments of document-issuing agencies that allow offenders to exploit opportunities to obtain identity documents. Research should also focus on practices and operating environments of document-authenticating agencies that allow offenders access to identity data. Also, the structure and operations of the information systems involved with the operational procedures of the aforementioned agents should be researched. The report reviewed more than 160 literature sources that ranged from traditional journal articles to Web sites and presentations.

Date Published: July 1, 2007