IDENTITY THEFT: Available Data Indicate Growth in Prevalence and Cost
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
Pagination or Media Count:
I am pleased to be here today to discuss the preliminary results of our ongoing study requested by the Subcommittee and Senator Charles Grassley to develop information on the extent or prevalence of identity theft and its cost to the financial services industry, victims, and the federal criminal justice system. Generally, identity theft involves stealing another persons personal identifying information such as Social Security number SSN, date of birth, and mothers maiden name and then using the information to fraudulently establish credit, run up debt, or to take over existing financial accounts. Although not specifically or comprehensively quantifiable, the prevalence and cost of identity theft seem to be increasing, according to the available data we reviewed and many officials of the public and private sector entities we contacted. Given such indications, most observers agree that identity theft certainly warrants continued attention, encompassing law enforcement as well as prevention efforts. Various recently introduced bills, including S. 1055 Privacy Act of 2001, have provisions designed to enhance such efforts. While the scope of our work did not include an evaluation of S. 1055, we did compile information that could be useful in discussing related issues, and my testimony today will offer perspectives on several identity theft-related provisions of the bill.
- Sociology and Law