Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to identity theft, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Prevention
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Raising businesses’ awareness of their responsibility to protect employee and client records You work with businesses to ensure that they follow best practices for securing personal records …you have a good working relationship with local businesses You must overcome businesses’ concerns that security practices will affect their bottom line
2 Educating people about protecting their personal information You work with local schools and citizen and consumer groups to teach theft prevention techniques …you use the wealth of information available on the Internet and provided by many federal and state agencies This should be made a part of your department’s regular outreach activities
3 Collaborating with government and other service organizations to protect private information You work with service agencies to reduce the use of social security numbers as identifiers …you have a good working relationship with the agencies, especially those that issue identification documents Your influence may be limited, depending on your reputation for dealing with identity theft, and the size of the government bureaucracy
4 Working with local banks to encourage credit card issuers to adopt improved security practices You urge banks to demand that credit card issuers develop better identity verification techniques …you have a good working relationship with local banks Credit card issuers are often international in scope, so their security practices might be beyond the influence of local financial institutions
5 Tracking delivery You work with the post office and delivery companies to monitor vacant residences and diverted deliveries of mail …you help train delivery employees to spot suspicious deliveries This requires considerable effort to maintain monitoring and training over time
Victim Assistance
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
6 Working with the victim You adopt the victim as your partner in the investigation …you address victim concerns early and show that you care, provide the victim with a copy of the police or incident report, and direct the victim to resources outlining the self-help steps he or she needs to take Cross-jurisdictional issues may hamper your response and frustrate the victim; the number of identity theft incidents may initially appear to rise after you adopt a policy to write reports for all victims; the victim will still need to make follow-up phone calls and send follow-up documents to resolve their identity theft problems, which may prove burdensome
7 Preparing a plan to prevent or minimize the harm of identity theft when large identity databases have been breached You work with local businesses and service agencies to develop a disaster plan should massive theft of personal records occur …you have a good working relationship with local agencies, so that the plan can be put into effect immediately to reduce the time the thief has to use stolen records This requires coordination and cooperation between local businesses and government, and direct contact with national credit- reporting agencies