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'Alter Reality': Governing the Risk of Identity Theft

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2008 Pages: 20-38
Donncha Marron
Date Published
January 2008
19 pages
This paper examines the recent development of identity theft as a crime within the United States, specifically the appropriation of personal information for the fraudulent adoption of consumer credit accounts.
Identity theft involves the use of another’s personal identifying information for a range of illicit ends, and is billed as the fastest growing crime in the United States. The dangers posed by identity theft are not simply constructed, but have a realist dimension stemming from the ways in which the contemporary credit-dependent, consumer-oriented economy works. It is demonstrated that identity theft, conceptualized within a discourse of risk, has a realist dimension as an unintended consequence of the deployment of information technologies in the securitization of consumer identities. This paper explores the extent to which credit consumers have come to be made conscious of identity theft and its financial impact as an uncertain event, a crime which the individual, as a consumer, is encouraged to take preventative measures against a risk through which the actions and dispositions of individuals are governed in specific ways. In addition, it examines how the risk of identity theft is understood and constructed in particular ways through the means by which governing authorities, the State, lenders, credit-referencing agencies, and consumer groups, comprehend the problem as a risk and apportion responsibility for its management. References


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