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Identity theft rings number in the thousands in US

Nov 28, 2012 Dave King

In the United States, identity theft is a pervasive crime, spurring experts and analysts to examine the extent of its reach and magnitude. Recent research from ID Analytics found that 10,000 active identity theft crime rings exist across the U.S., with the greatest number of these concentrated in the Southeast, specifically Washington, D.C., Florida, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. These groups are not sophisticated criminal organizations, though. Rather, the research termed them "Friends & Family" groups, denoting their status as being made up of multiple family members or neighbors committing some type of fraud. "The family dynamics is a big surprise," head researcher Stephen Coggeshall told NBC News. "Rather than seeing a lot of what I would say are unrelated people collaborating, we see a lot of families doing this, sharing information. Siblings and parents toggling SSNs systematically, sharing dates of birth and committing identity theft." There are many steps consumers and businesses can take to prevent identity theft, including monitoring regular credit card statements and performing background screenings on employment applicants.