Nov 14 2012
For those of us in the security space, it’s common to hear about crime rings based out of Eastern Europe that are targeting US companies and consumers. Stealing the data and selling it to make a fast buck has been something that we prefer to identify as something that happens from abroad. A recent report from ID Analytics, though, tells us that we have plenty of trouble with that particular crime here at home.
ID Analytics, a leader in consumer risk management, has undertaken a study to identify crime rings in the US that specialize in identity theft. According to the report, there are more than 10,000 separate crime rings operating in the United States. Those rings appear to be most highly concentrated in Washington D.C.; Detroit; Tampa, Fla.; Greenville, Miss., Macon, Georgia; and Montgomery, Ala. Another unusual finding of the report was that a large number of these rings were comprised of friends and family working together. You know what they say. “The family that defrauds together…”
This report is interesting on a couple of levels. First, there has been an assumption that Identity Theft is often the work of career criminals. The report seems to contradict this, pointing out the almost communal nature of identity theft rings. The individuals work together and even share identity information, like social security numbers, in an effort to get new lines of credits. Secondly, while we do know that many breaches do originate from abroad, it is important that we not overlook the threat that we face here at home. Another surprising revelation in the report is the genesis of the crimes. Again, we tend to think of identity theft as an urban crime. While most of the victims were city dwellers, the report shows that the crime rings originate largely in rural areas.
It would be interesting to see if longitudinal studies would uncover a relationship between the economic downturn, particularly as it hit these rural areas, and the increase in the formation and activity of identity theft rings. It is sometimes easy to think of identity theft in the abstract, and that may entice people that wouldn’t be attracted to violent crime as a means of supporting themselves.