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ID Thieves Do Much More than just Using Internet

While the business of identity theft is thriving, a seasoned identity thief applies less technology. Such is the observation from a study by CIMIP or Center for Identity Management and Information Protection of the University of Ithaca. The study that was based on the data on closed cases of identity theft that the Secret Service compiled got its funding from the US Department of Justice.

People generally think that for an identity theft, the criminal just uses a computer to hack into individual or corporate computers. While this certainly happens, there are many more ways by which the crime takes place, such as a simple method of stealing e-mail from someone's inbox, said CIMIP's Executive Director Gary Gordon. WSJ published this in news on October 22, 2007.

According to the study by Secret Service, identity thieves belong to the younger generation who work alone without any assistance, and who use the Internet for just 20% of their total crimes. While various methods were combined in identity theft, the culprits involved the Internet for less than one-fifth of the crimes, said Gordon. They frequently rerouted e-mail through changed address cards as the most prevalent non-technological method. Other non-technological methods were dumpster diving and e-mail theft, Gordon said.

It was found that in about 10% of the cases, identity thieves used only the Internet to carry out their crimes while in 5.8% of cases, they used both the Internet and other equipments like peripherals or computers. Technology-based equipments were employed in 22% of ID frauds. Further, the thieves attacked complete strangers in 59% of the crime cases whereas in 10.5% of cases, the victims were customers of the fraudster; and in other 5% of cases, they were their relatives.

According to Gordon, in only two cases, botnets were involved to commit identity theft. But he thinks there may be more botnet activity in the future and CIMIP is already researching for them.

In one statement, Gordon said that the study specifically used federal cases where the FBI was the nodal agency probing identity theft cases. Darkreading published this.

Related article: ID Theft Victims Will Double In Next Four Years

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