Research Center To Focus on ID Theft
An alliance of businesses, colleges and federal crime fighters will combine
their expertise at a new research center that will study the problems of identity
theft and fraud.
Founding partners of the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection
include LexisNexis Inc. and IBM Corp., the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI.
Participating schools include Carnegie Mellon University, Indiana University
and Syracuse University.
The center will be established in upstate New York at Utica College, which
pioneered the nation's first curriculum on white-collar crime in 1988.
Research will focus on critical issues in identity management, information
sharing policy and data protection, said Dr. Gary Gordon, a Utica College professor
and expert in cybercrime and identity fraud.
"The first thing we have to do is better understand the size and scope
of the issue," Gordon said.
Officials were to announce creation of the center Wednesday in Washington,
D.C. and in Utica.
"We all know it's a major problem in society, and a potentially dangerous
problem. It cuts across every aspect -- commerce, national security, government,
our private lives. There is a tremendous need, though, for more research,"
One recent survey reported that there have been more than 28 million new identity
theft victims since 2003, but Gordon said it's likely that just as many incidents
go undetected or unreported.
In May, up to 26.5 million people were exposed to possible identity theft and
fraud when a Veterans Affairs Department data analyst's laptop computer was
stolen from his home in suburban Maryland. The laptop contained names, birth
dates and Social Security numbers.
So far, there have been no identity crimes linked to the VA theft, but lesser
incidents have become commonplace.
"Identity theft has become rampant in our society and to better combat
the problem we need bold, new and innovative solutions," said U.S. Rep.
Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Science Committee.
Tracy Mitrano, director of information technology policy at Cornell University,
applauded the center's creation.
"We really don't have a coherent legal framework for privacy in this country,"
she said. "We have piecemeal laws that were adopted for particular reasons.
We need a center like this to help us learn more about what people are doing
with information ... and how it relates to our laws, ethics and values."
Secret Service Deputy Director Brian Nagel agreed that it will require a comprehensive
examination of the problem for officials to improve prevention and detection
as well as develop technological solutions and new policies.
"This will begin a dialogue and interaction on how to do better, on what
tools are needed, on how we can improve policy," he said.
One of the initial research projects at the center will examine current and
emerging criminal groups that perpetrate identity fraud and theft, with a focus
on their methods of operation. It also will look at developing stronger identity
The center will share its research through training sessions, symposiums, publications
and its Web site.