Identity Theft: Trends and Issues [May 27, 2009]   [open pdf - 542KB]

"In the wake of the economic downturn, policymakers are increasingly concerned with securing the economic health of the United States--including combating those crimes that threaten to further undermine the nation's financial stability. Identity theft is one such crime. It is the fastest growing type of fraud in the United States; in 2008 about 9.9 million Americans were reportedly victims of identity theft, an increase of 22% from the number of cases in 2007. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that it costs consumers about $50 billion annually. Identity theft is often committed to facilitate other crimes such as credit card fraud, document fraud, or employment fraud, which in turn can affect not only the nation's economy but its security. Consequently, in securing the nation and its economic health, policymakers are also tasked with reducing identity theft and its impact. There have already been several legislative and administrative actions aimed at curtailing identity theft. Congress enacted legislation naming identity theft as a federal crime in 1998 (P.L. 105-318) and later provided for enhanced penalties for aggravated identity theft (P.L. 108-275). In April 2007, the President's Identity Theft Task Force issued recommendations to combat identity theft, including specific legislative recommendations to close identity theft-related gaps in the federal criminal statutes. In a further attempt to curb identity theft, Congress directed the FTC to issue an Identity Theft Red Flags Rule (effective November 1, 2009), requiring that creditors and financial institutions with specified account types develop and institute written identity theft prevention programs."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R40599
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