Identity Theft Advisory

December 1, 2005

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Thief ImageTerrorists have seized upon the use of information technology as a tool in their terrorist activities.Terrorist have a long history of assuming other individual's identities.In an article published on September 22nd, 2001 by the Times LTD titled "Terrorists' Trade in Stolen Identities *it discusses how Osama bin Laden had carefully created impostors and how his agents stole the identities and life histories of at least a dozen Western-educated young men who were all murdered in 1990.Every document and record of those men's lives were either stolen or doctored to allow the terrorists to move freely around the world.

(* Ed note.This link goes to which has a collection of article about 9/11 and has re-published the London Times piece)

Facts: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Information Bulletin titled "Potential Terrorist Use of Official Identification," it warned that Al-Qaeda andother terrorist groups are likely to view the theft or other illegal acquisition of official identification, uniforms, or vehicles as an effective way to increase access and decrease scrutiny of their activities.

Credit CardsApproximately, 11.8 million Americans (one in twenty adults) have been victimized by identity theft as of April 2003.Identity theft can take many forms.An illegal immigrant may use your social security number (SSN) and date of birth (DOB) for employment purposes or to obtain a birth certificate. Sometimes personal identification numbers are sold over and over to hundreds of individuals who in turn attempt to obtain bogus credit in your name or establish utility services and run up the bills. Sometimes arrested criminals will gave assumed names, DOBs, and SSNs.

Much press has been given to the recent theft of personal information from commercial data providers like ChoicePoint, Lexus Nexus and others.Much, if not all, of the focus has been placed on use of this data for identity theft resulting in financial gain for the thieves.This is our mental model based on the historical perspective created by past theft of personal information and the rampant growth of identity theft.However, there may be an alternative use of identity information.One that is more sinister. Armed with critical data elements like: Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Address, and Place of Birth, the ability of a terrorist to assume the identity of a U.S.citizen is enhanced.It is nota question of whether the information increases an individual's ability to steal or assume someone's identity, but of how much of a benefit the information provides and how much actual risk there is if a terrorist assumes the identity of a U.S. citizen.During the Senate investigation/hearing on Capital Hill, no discussion occurred on the use of this information by terrorists even though the information may have been tracked back to a country or countries where traditional identity theft attacks are very common, it is very probable that the thieves sold the information to other organizations for more money than what they would typically gain through traditional identify theft.


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