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Differentiating Identity Theft: An Exploratory Study of Victims Using a National Victimization Survey

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 38 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2010 Pages: 1045-1052
Date Published
September 2010
8 pages

The current study uses data from the National Public Survey on White Collar Crime to determine the degree to which including credit card fraud as a type of identity theft affects victim profiles encompassing demographic characteristics, risky activities, and reporting decisions.


Despite the widespread attention given to identity theft, there is much confusion on how best to define and measure it. Recent attempts to measure its extent through victimization surveys or law enforcement files have varied considerably in the types of crimes included as identity theft. Some studies include credit card fraud, while others exclude it. This inconsistency in data collection has made it difficult to assess properly the extent of the crime. Specifically, the current study compares victim profiles for victims of existing credit card fraud, new credit card fraud, and existing bank account fraud. Findings from our exploratory study suggest that including existing credit card fraud may obscure the fact that those who are female, Black, young, and low income are disproportionately victimized by existing bank account fraud, which is the type of identity theft most financially damaging and most difficult to clear up for individuals. Tables, notes, and references (Published Abstract)

Date Published: September 1, 2010