Businesses: The Biggest Source Of Data For Identity Thieves


A study shows business as both the biggest source and biggest victim of this crime.

Businesses are favored by thieves as the best place to steal personal data over family members and friends, strangers' wallets or purses, the mail and the Internet, according to a study released Monday by Utica College's Center for Identity Management and Information Protection.

Researchers studied 517 criminal cases closed by the Secret Service between 2000 and 2006. They defined personal data as name, address, social security number and date of birth, but excluded information from credit, debit and other bank cards.

Businesses were also victims of identity theft in more than half these cases, more often than individuals. Banks, credit unions, and other financial services companies were 37% of victims and retail businesses another 21%. Individuals were victims about a third of the time.

A couple of other interesting facts: In half the cases, thieves used the Internet and/or other technological devices--computers, printers, copiers, cell phones, digital cameras--to commit their crimes. And 20% of them stole data from where they worked.

This report fills a hole in another report released last April by the President's Identity Theft Task Force, which did not study offenders and their methods. It is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and can be downloaded here.