You think a foolproof password will protect you. Think again.

With our lives moving increasingly online, these are boom times for identity thieves. Indeed, identity theft, the stealing and use of other people’s personal data to commit fraud, is considered the fastest growing crime in the United States.

Assessing the Effect and Quality of Services for Victims of Identity Theft

With grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, DSG—along with criminology researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas and ITRC staff—is conducting the first-ever study to assess the effect and quality of services provided to identify theft victims. In addition to client satisfaction, this 3-year study will examine how identity theft may result in social problems, mental health problems, physical health problems, and financial problems.

Understanding Identity Theft

In addition to draining people’s bank accounts and maxing out their credit cards, thieves will use the stolen information to obtain loans and mortgages, apply for jobs, and file fraudulent tax returns and insurance claims. Criminals also use the stolen data to hack into organizations’ computer systems. They may even use the stolen data to commit blackmail or demand a ransom for its return.

Thieves are finding it easier and easier to pilfer people’s personal information. Criminals meet every firewall we put up with novel ways to get around them, but they still rely on the tried and true: pickpocketing, sifting through people’s garbage for, say, discarded bank statements, and tampering with bank ATMs. They also bait people into unwittingly handing over their personal information through online phishing and smishing (the use of text or SMS messaging) scams.

Identity theft isn’t just an adult problem. Children’s identities get stolen, too. And the worst part about that is they often don’t find out about the theft for years.


Since 2000, the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has been helping victims of identity theft recover their identities. The center also studies the issue and engages in activities to raise public awareness about identity theft. It is one of the few organizations that serves a nationally representative population of victims and maintains long-term relationships with its clients by conducting follow-up activities.


For information about the Identity Theft project, contact Project Director Steve Gies at or 301.951.0056.