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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
OnGuardOnline.gov 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
EDUCAUSE Library Items for Identity Theft
- FTC Workshop on "Security in Numbers: SSNs and ID Theft"
November 12, 2007
On December 10 and 11, 2007, the Federal Trade Commission will host a public workshop, “ Security in Numbers: SSNs and ID Theft,” to explore the uses of Social Security numbers in the priv…
- FTC Seeking Comments on SSN Use - Including Usage by Colleges and Universities
August 6, 2007
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it is seeking comments on the use of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) in the private sector. This inquiry is in response to a recommendatio…
- GAO Releases Report on Data Breaches and Identity Theft
July 24, 2007
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a Report on Data Breaches that concludes while "breaches of sensitive information have occurred frequently and under widely varyin…
- Podcast:: Security Breaches and Identity Theft
June 26, 2007
In this 55 minute podcast, we present a general session from the EDUCAUSE 2007 Policy Conference entitled, “ Security Breaches and Identity Theft ”. This is a panel discussion moderated by …
- Winning the Battle against Phishing Scams
May 16, 2012
A session at the Security Professionals Conference 2012
Since January 2008, K-State has been plagued by spear phishing scams that attempt to steal users' e-IDs and passwords. Unfortunately, this has proven to be a particularly effective form of s…
- Higher Education's Role in the Identity Ecosystem
October 19, 2011
A session at the EDUCAUSE 2011 Annual Conference
The federal government has announced a National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which seeks to better protect against fraud and identity theft, enhance individuals' priv…
- Cyberspace: A Matter of National Security - Sponsored by Trustwave
April 13, 2010
A session at the Security 2010
Cyberspace began as the domain of technologists and engineers, with a focus on building circuits, switches, computers, and software that could reliably sustain a new global form of communication. I…
- Soft-Selling Tough Issues
April 22, 2009
A session at the Security 2009
Louisiana State University's IT communications and security officers join forces to effectively educate campus populations about IT security threats, IT policies, and best practices. …
- Beating a Dead (Trojan) Horse: Finding New Ways to Communicate the Same Security Message
February 24, 2009
A session at the EDUCAUSE Southwest Regional Conference 2009
Communicating with institutional customers about safeguarding their private and personal information, preventing digital copyright infringement, and increasing their awareness of a hostile Ethernet…
- Computer Security Student Video
October 30, 2008
A session at the EDUCAUSE 2008 Annual Conference
The largest group of victims of identity theft is between the ages of 18 and 29. Students need to understand the risks and how to protect their personal information, computer, and campus networks. …