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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
- 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. …
- The FTC as an Educational Partner in Improving Data Security and Privacy
May 7, 2008
A session at the EDUCAUSE Policy Conference 2008
The Federal Trade Commission deals with issues that touch the economic lives of most Americans. The current portfolio includes protecting consumers in the areas of data security and privacy, identi…
- Identity Finder LLC and Carnegie Mellon University - Find and Protect Personal Information Before It's Too Late
May 6, 2008
A session at the Security 2008
It's estimated that the black market trafficking of stolen electronic identities will increase to $1.6 billion in 2010. Finding personal information is an increasingly complex problem due the …
- Security Breaches and Identity Theft
May 17, 2007
A session at the EDUCAUSE Policy Conference 2007
As Congress strives to pass legislation that would provide a uniform federal law for security breach notifications, a number of related privacy and security policy proposals are under consideration…
- Risk Assessment 101
March 13, 2006
A session at the EDUCAUSE Midwest Regional Conference 2006
Have you examined how to physically protect your data? With federal requirements imposed such as GLBA, FERPA, and HIPAA and threats of identity theft, where do you start? Learn where we began by as…
- GLBA at Two: What It Is, Who's Doing What, and Compliance on the Cheap
May 16, 2005
A session at the CUMREC 2005
In May 2003, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) appeared to be another unfunded federal mandate. For the unacquainted, the intent of this portion of the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 …
- Privacy and Security of Personal Information
April 6, 2005
A session at the EDUCAUSE Policy Conference 2005
Identity theft has become a hot topic, with near daily reports about thousands or millions of lost or stolen personal records. Laws have been passed or are being considered in the states and in Con…
- Identity Theft and Other Privacy Threats: Issues and IT Implications
October 20, 2004
A session at the EDUCAUSE 2004 Annual Conference
Protecting the privacy of personal information is an increasingly important organizational priority. In response, a university-wide team is revisiting and updating the university's current pra…
- When the Bits Hit the Fan: Managing Data Security and Privacy
October 20, 2004
A session at the EDUCAUSE 2004 Annual Conference
There is no shortage of security compromises to personal information on campus. Why do these breaches happen? Are there not effective steps to prevent them? How should a campus respond if an incide…