U.S. Federal identity theft convictions increased 26 percent

Federal identity theft convictions increased 26 percent in 2007 from the year prior, according to a Bush administration task force report on identity theft unveiled Tuesday.

According to the “Identity Theft Task Force Report,” as many as 1,534 people were convicted in 2006, and a year later, 1,943 were convicted nationwide on various identity theft violations. The report, however, said there are about 1.6 million complaints of identity theft on file with the Federal Trade Commission.

“The profiles, purposes, and methods of the perpetrators are continually changing. Identity theft today can be the product of organized crime rings here and abroad using increasingly sophisticated technologies, such as installing malicious software, phishing, spoofing, and a database hacking, to tap into repositories of consumer data,” the task force wrote.

The 70-page document also includes 31 recommendations to combat identity theft. The recommendations state the obvious, but are important nonetheless. Among them, the task force wants to see a reduction in the use of Social Security numbers in the public and private sectors, more law enforcement training and better cooperation between the states and with other nations.

The report has a couple of interesting recommendations: the creation of a “National Identity Theft Law Enforcement Center” and providing victims of identity theft with a so-called passport “to prove they are who they say they are.”

“Such documentation is particularly important where a suspect has used the victim’s name in the commission of a crime,” the report said. The Identity Theft Center would act as an intermediary among the nation’s 50 states and federal government to investigate identity theft, the report said.

The report also calls for lobbying to “encourage other countries to enact suitable domestic legislation criminalizing identity theft.”

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