That is, proving that one is who she claims to be ("This document proves that I am John Doe"). Practically, this means that it is very easy to simply make up a fake SSN, and there is a high probability that a manufactured SSN belongs to a real person.
In a 2003 survey of more than 4,000 Americans, the Federal Trade Commission found that in the previous year, identity theft cost victims $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses, as well as 300 million hours of their time trying to fix damage caused by the crime.
The FTC survey showed that in all, 27.3 million Americans were affected by identity theft in the previous five years.
Also, in many cases, merchants swallow the costs of identity theft.
Some have alleged that in these cases, credit card companies and banks profit from the crime.
The FTC found that 49 percent of all the 4057 respondents did not have any idea whatsoever how their identity came to be purloined, while 22 percent cited theft and another 12 percent claimed the information was stolen in the course of a transaction.
Businesses incurred billion in loss as a result of identity theft.
The clerk checks this information against a file at a consumer reporting agency, like Equifax, Trans Union, or Experian.
This information is known as a "credit header," it is personal information at the top of a credit report.
Almost all identity theft involves at least three persons: One must remember that there will always be financial fraud, and that no payment system is perfect.
However, when it comes to identity theft, the financial services industry must bear some of the blame for the crime.