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Identity theft occurs when someone uses an individual's personal information — such as Social Security number, birth date, or credit card and bank account information — to impersonate the victim in financial transactions. During the 2003 calendar year, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 215,000 reports of identity theft, up from 162,000 the previous year. Identity theft represented 42 percent of all complaints received by the FTC, reflecting a growing trend.

Several recent incidents have highlighted the susceptibility of college and university data collections to theft. At the University of Texas, New York University, and elsewhere, security flaws have revealed students' Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information. Federal legislation has made it easier for victims of identity theft to report crimes and for consumers to get copies of their credit histories; many states have passed or are debating legislation related to this issue.

EDUCAUSE has identified links concerning identity theft that may be useful to the higher education community. Many of these links have been contributed by EDUCAUSE members. If you have additional resources you would like to include on this page, send the information to

Federal Government Resources

Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) of 2003
FACTA renewed the Fair Credit Reporting Act with additional provisions aimed at protecting consumers from identity theft. The law provides for individuals to get free annual copies of their credit histories; requires businesses to hide Social Security numbers and portions of credit card numbers on receipts; and creates a national fraud - detection system so victims of identity theft do not have to notify each credit bureau separately.

The Federal Trade Commission's National Resource for ID Theft
The FTC has developed this site as a national resource for identity theft. It provides a list of steps to take for individuals who believe that their identity has been stolen. Resources include an identity theft survey, affidavit, statistics, and other helpful links. Information is in English and Spanish.

Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number
Social Security Administration (SSA) publication No. 05-10064, from February 2004. provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of the Inspector General - Resource on Identity Theft for Students
Copies of informational handouts on identity theft designed for schools to provide to students.

State Government Resources

National Conference of State Legislatures
Identity theft statutes by state. List of citations, titles, and penalties.

Florida Attorney General
The state of Florida's Identity Theft Response Center. Resources include a theft victim kit, statistics, and informaton on preventing theft.

Association and Nongovernmental Organization Resources

Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)
ITRC is a national organization dedicated to helping people to prevent and recover from identity theft. Resources include FAQs, scams and consumer alerts, current laws, and guides for organizing an identity theft case.

Identity Theft University - Business Partnership Michigan State University
The partnership includes MSU researchers who are working with industry to make personal data more secure. This site includes information on technological, legal, psychological, and policy issues related to identity theft.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Fact sheets on identity theft, in English and Spanish.

University Resources on Identity Theft and Data Security Incidents

Library Items on this Topic


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