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19 Crim. Just. Pol'y Rev. 3 (2008)

handle is hein.journals/cjpr19 and id is 1 raw text is: 


                                                                       ... riminal justice
                                                                 I.. Po licyx Review

Assessing          Our Knowledge                                      Voum 1 ,uber I
                                                                 © 2008 iageN blic tions

of Identity         Theft                                       1011-7,0&87401407106297
                                                                         'hosted at
The Challenges to Effective Prevention                            http://onlih.ostgepubd .a
and Control Efforts

Michael D. White
Christopher Fisher
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY


   Identity theft, defined as the unlawful use of another's identifying information for gain,
   has quickly become the most prevalent financial crime in the United States. Despite its
   substantial growth, basic questions about identity theft such as its prevalence, nature,
   and consequences; characteristics of offenders and victims; and extent of victims'
   losses-remain unanswered. This article highlights the primary challenges that hinder
   our knowledge about identity theft and simultaneously limit the effectiveness of
   prevention and intervention efforts. These challenges include limitations of current
   definitions, the fragmented law enforcement response, problems with existing data
   sources, and the nature of the crime itself specifically, how it is committed, discov-
   ered, and reported. With these fundamental problems as a backdrop, the authors adopt
   a situational crime prevention framework and offer recommendations for prevention
   and intervention that center on reducing opportunity through more secure places and
   enhanced guardianship but also emphasize systematic data collection and research to
   improve our knowledge base of the crime.

   Keywords: identity theft; financial crime; fraud


dentity theft, defined as the unlawful use of another's identifying information for
  gain, has quickly become the most prevalent financial crime in the United States.
Current estimates suggest that as many as 27 million Americans have been victims
of identity theft in the past 5 years, with more than 10 million cases in 2003 alone
(Gerard, Hillison, & Pacini, 2004). The methods by which personal information is
obtained and subsequently used to commit identity theft are diverse and wide ranging
in complexity, from low-tech methods such as theft of wallets or purses and dumpster
diving to more sophisticated methods such as Internet scams. Once a victim's
personal information has been compromised, identity thieves use that information in
numerous ways, such as running up charges on an existing or new credit card, opening
bank accounts in the victim's name and writing bad checks, and taking out loans (for
cars, even mortgages) in the victim's name.
   Perl (2003) differentiates between three different types of identity theft: finan-
cial, nonfinancial, and criminal record. Financial identity theft occurs when the
identity thief uses a victim's personal information to withdraw money from a victim's

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