Classifying Identity Theft Using a Problem-Oriented Approach

Elena Licu, University of Cincinnati

Millions of consumers become victims of identity theft every year. The key target for identity theft offenders is the personal and confidential information of individuals. This is acquired in various ways, such as scavenging through people's garbage, stealing and redireting their mail, searching the Internet for personal information, or using occupational position to gain internal access to databases (Lease and Burke, 2000). Using Eck and Clarke's (2003) classification of police problems, the paper defines and organizes identity theft by the behaviors of the participants and the environments or networks where they occur. Classifying identity theft into specific categories allows for a better understanding of this problem. A detailed classification benefits research, evaluation, and practice problems (Eck and Clarke, 2003). It allows for the development of common solutions for similar problems. The paper further describes how the typology can be applied and extended, and concludes by discussing the implications and utility of the identity theft classification scheme in aiding prevention efforts.

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Updated 05/20/2006