Identity Thieves Often Lurk Close to Home, New Study Finds



June 26, 2007 - Who is most likely to steal your identity? Friends, family members and small time-thieves such as purse-snatchers are the leading culprits, according to a new study conducted by the non-profit Institute for Fraud Prevention (IFP). The IFP is a global research institute dedicated to reducing the causes of fraud and corruption.

The study, conducted by Professor William Kresse of St. Xavier University in Chicago with assistance from the Chicago Police Department concludes that ID theft is overwhelmingly a blue collar crime, and that the most popular use for a stolen identity was to perform some type of credit card fraud or acquire mobile-phone service.

The conclusions are based on data compiled from approximately 30,000 identity theft cases from 2000-2006, and more specifically, on data taken from 1,322 randomly selected cases. In 60% of the cases where the victim could identify the thief, the victim's identity was stolen by a friend, relative, or a person otherwise known to the victim. Despite being considered a high tech crime, in less than 5% of the cases, the victim's identity was stolen by use of the computer or internet.

The research also finds that:

Most victims became aware of the theft only after being notified by credit card companies
Less than 10 percent of identity theft victims discovered the theft by viewing a credit report
Almost one in five identity theft victims first learned of the theft when they were served with legal process or received a collection notice
The study includes public policy recommendations based upon the findings. The researcher proposes the creation of a national database for identity theft to aid law enforcement, similar to data compiled for index crimes including murder, robbery, theft, arson, and others. Also, the study asserts that policies that encourage victims of identity theft to report incidents of identity theft to police authorities should be adopted. The researchers promote public education programs, both general and targeted, to help spread awareness of the risk factors for identity theft.

The published results of the study may be found at, under the Recent Studies heading.

The Institute for Fraud Prevention is a powerful coalition of domestic and international universities dedicated to multi-disciplinary research, education and prevention of fraud and corruption. The IFP's primary goal is to improve the ability of business and government to combat these crimes and to educate the public on effective methods of recognizing and deterring them. The IFP is funded by contributions from its members: the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Grant Thornton LLP, and D-Quest, Inc. It also receives intellectual support and assistance from various government, academic, public and private organizations.

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