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United States General Accounting Office: 

Before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security and 
the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, 
Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives. 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 4:00 p.m. 
Tuesday, June 25, 2002: 

Identity Fraud: 

Prevalence and Links to Alien Illegal Activities: 

Statement of Richard M. Stana: 
Director, Justice Issues: 


Chairman Smith, Chairman Gekas, and Members of the Subcommittees: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the significance of "identity 
fraud"-—a term that encompasses a broad range of illegal activities 
based on fraudulent use of identifying information of a real person or 
of a fictitious person. A pervasive type of identity fraud is identity 
theft, which involves "stealing" another person's personal identifying 
information—-such as Social Security number (SSN), date of birth, and 
mother's maiden name-—and then using the information to fraudulently 
establish credit, run up debt, take over existing financial accounts, 
or to undertake other activities in another's name. Also, another 
pervasive category is the use of fraudulent identity documents by 
aliens to enter the United States illegally to obtain employment and 
other benefits. The events of September 11, 2001, have heightened 
concerns about the contributory role that identity fraud plays in 
facilitating terrorism and other serious crimes. 

In this statement, I make the following points: 

* The prevalence of identity theft appears to be growing. Moreover, 
identity theft is not typically a stand-alone crime; rather, identity 
theft is usually a component of one or more white-collar or financial 
crimes, such as bank fraud, credit card or access device fraud, or the 
use of counterfeit financial instruments. Since 1998, the Congress and 
most states have enacted laws that criminalize identity theft. The 
passage of federal and state identity theft legislation indicates that 
this type of crime has been widely recognized as a serious problem 
across the nation. 

* According to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials, 
the use of fraudulent documents by aliens is extensive. At ports of 
entry, INS inspectors have intercepted tens of thousands of fraudulent 
documents in each of the last few years. These documents were 
presented by aliens attempting to enter the United States to seek 
employment or obtain other immigration benefits, such as
naturalization or permanent residency status. The types of false 
documents most frequently intercepted by INS inspectors include border 
crossing cards, alien registration cards, nonimmigrant visas, and 
passports and citizenship documents (both U.S. and foreign). Also, INS 
has reported that large-scale counterfeiting has made fraudulent 
employment eligibility documents (e.g., Social Security cards) widely 

* Federal investigations have shown that some aliens use fraudulent 
documents in connection with more serious illegal activities, such as 
narcotics trafficking and terrorism. This is a cause for greater 

* Efforts to combat identity fraud in its many forms likely will 
command continued attention from policymakers and law enforcement. 
Such efforts will include investigating and prosecuting perpetrators, 
as well as focusing on prevention measures to make key identification 
documents and information less susceptible to being counterfeited or 
otherwise used fraudulently. 

My testimony today will be based primarily on the results of work that 
we have completed in recent years, namely our May 1998 and March 2002 
reports on identity theft,[Footnote 1] March 2002 report on the INS's 
Forensic Document Laboratory,[Footnote 12] January 2002 report on 
immigration benefit fraud,[Footnote 3] May 2000 report on alien 
smuggling,[Footnote 4] July 1999 congressional testimony on illegal 
aliens and fraudulent documents,[Footnote 5] and April 1999 report on 
INS's worksite enforcement efforts.[Footnote 6] We also obtained 
information from the U.S. Secret Service, the Social Security 
Administration's Office of the Inspector General (SSA/OIG), the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Sentencing 
Commission, and publicly available sources. 

Prevalence of Identity Theft Appears to be Growing: 

No single hotline or database captures the universe of identity theft 
victims. Some individuals do not even know that they have been 
victimized until months after the fact, and some known victims may not 
know to report or may choose not to report to the police, credit 
bureaus, or established hotlines. Thus, it is difficult to fully or 
accurately measure the prevalence of identity theft. Some of the often-
quoted estimates of prevalence range from one-quarter to three-
quarters of a million victims annually. Generally speaking, the higher 
the estimate of identity theft prevalence, the greater the (1) number 
of victims who are assumed not to report the crime and (2) number of 
hotline callers who are assumed to be victims rather than 
"preventative" callers. However, we found no information to confirm 
the extent to which these assumptions are valid. 

Nevertheless, although it is difficult to specifically or 
comprehensively quantify identity theft, a number of data sources can 
be used as proxies or indicators for gauging the prevalence of such 
crime. These sources include: 

* the three national consumer reporting agencies that have call-in 
centers for reporting identity fraud or theft; 

* the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which maintains a database of 
complaints concerning identity theft; 

* the SSA/OIG, which operates a hotline to receive allegations of SSN 
misuse and program fraud; and; 

* federal law enforcement agencies—Department of Justice components, 
Department of the Treasury components, and the Postal Inspection 
Service—responsible for investigating and prosecuting identity theft-
related cases. 

Each of these various sources or measures seems to indicate that the
prevalence of identity theft is growing. 

Consumer Reporting Agencies: An Increasing Number of Fraud Alerts on 
Consumer Files: 

According to the three national consumer reporting agencies, the most 
reliable indicator of the incidence of identity theft is the number of 
longterm (generally 7 years) fraud alerts placed on consumer credit 
files. Fraud alerts constitute a warning that someone may be using the 
consumer's personal information to fraudulently obtain credit. Thus, a 
purpose of the alert is to advise credit grantors to conduct 
additional identity verification or contact the consumer directly 
before granting credit. One of the three consumer reporting agencies 
estimated that its 7-year fraud alerts involving identity theft 
increased 36 percent over 2 recent years-—from about 65,600 in 1999 to 
89,000 in 2000.[Footnote 7] A second agency reported that its 7-year 
fraud alerts increased about 53 percent in recent comparative 12-month 
periods; that is, the number increased from 19,347 during one 12-month 
period (July 1999 through June 2000) to 29,593 during the more recent 
period (July 2000 through June 2001). The third agency reported about 
92,000 fraud alerts[Footnote 8] for 2000 but was unable to provide 
information for any earlier year.[Footnote 9] 

FTC: An Increasing Number of Calls to the Identity Theft Data 

The federal Identity Theft Act (P.L. 105-318) required the FTC to "log 
and acknowledge the receipt of complaints by individuals who certify 
that they have a reasonable belief" that one or more of their means of 
identification have been assumed, stolen, or otherwise unlawfully 
acquired. In response to this requirement, on November 1, 1999, FTC 
established a toll-free telephone hotline (1-877-ID-THEFT) for 
consumers to report identity theft. Information from complainants is 
accumulated in a central database (the Identity Theft Data 
Clearinghouse) for use as an aid in law enforcement and prevention of 
identity theft. From its establishment in November 1999 through 
September 2001, FTC's Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse received a 
total of 94,100 complaints from victims, including 16,784 complaints 
transferred to the FTC from the SSA/OIG. In the first month of 
operation, the Clearinghouse answered an average of 445 calls per 
week. By March 2001, the average number of calls answered had 
increased to over 2,000 per week. In December 2001, the weekly average 
was about 3,000 answered calls. However, FTC staff noted that identity 
theft-related statistics may, in part, reflect enhanced consumer 
awareness and reporting. 

SSA/OIG: An Increasing Number of Fraud Hotline Allegations: 

SSA/OIG operates a fraud hotline to receive allegations of fraud, 
waste, and abuse. In recent years, SSA/OIG has reported a substantial 
increase in calls related to identity theft. For example, allegations 
involving SSN misuse increased more than fivefold, from about 11,000 
in fiscal year 1998 to about 65,000 in fiscal year 2001. A review 
performed by SSA/OIG of a sample of 400 allegations of SSN misuse 
indicate that up to 81 percent of all allegations of SSN misuse 
related directly to identity theft. 

According to the SSA Inspector General, the dramatic rise in SSN 
misuse over the years has resulted partly from opportunities for fraud 
associated with the status of the SSN as a "de facto" national 
identifier, which is used by federal and state governments, banks, 
credit bureaus, insurance companies, medical care providers, and 
innumerable other industries. For a May 2000 congressional hearing on 
SSN misuse, the Inspector General's statement for the record noted 

"... our office has investigated numerous cases where individuals 
apply for benefits under erroneous SSNs. Additionally, we have 
uncovered situations where individuals counterfeit SSN cards for sale 
on America's streets. From time to time, we have even encountered SSA 
employees who sell legitimate SSNs for hundreds of dollars. Finally, 
we have seen examples where SSA's vulnerabilities in its enumeration 
business process [i.e., the process for issuing SSNs] adds to the pool 
of SSNs available for criminal fictitious identities."[Footnote 10] 

Federal Law Enforcement: Increasing Indications of Identity Theft-
Related Crime: 

Although federal law enforcement agencies do not have information 
systems that specifically track identity theft cases, the agencies 
provided us with statistics for identity theft-related crimes. 
Regarding bank fraud, for instance, the FBI reported that its arrests 
increased from 579 in 1998 to 645 in 2000—and was even higher (691) in 
1999. The Secret Service reported that, for recent years, it has 
redirected its identity theft-related efforts to focus on high-dollar, 
community-impact cases. Thus, even though the total number of identity 
theft-related cases closed by the Secret Service decreased from 8,498 
in fiscal year 1998 to 7,071 in 2000, the amount of fraud losses 
prevented in these cases increased from a reported average of about 
$73,000 in 1998 to an average of about $218,000 in 2000.[Footnote 11] 

The Postal Inspection Service, in its fiscal year 2000 annual report, 
noted that identity theft is a growing trend and that the agency's 
investigations of such crime had "increased by 67 percent since last 

Technology Affords Increased Opportunities for Identity Theft: 

Opportunities for identity theft-related criminal activities have been 
enhanced by growth of the Internet, which increases the availability 
and accessibility of personal identifying information. According to 
the FBI: 

"The availability of information on the Internet, in combination with 
the advances in computer hardware and software, makes it easier for 
the criminal to assume the identity of another for the purposes of 
committing fraud. For example, there are web-sites that offer novelty 
identification cards (including the hologram). After downloading the 
format, fonts, art work, and hologram images, the information can be 
easily modified to resemble a state-issued driver's license. In 
addition to drivers' licenses, there are web-sites that offer birth 
certificates, law enforcement credentials (including the FBI), and 
Internal Revenue Service forms."[Footnote 12] 

Similarly, the SSA/OIG has noted that, "The ever-increasing number of 
identity theft incidents has exploded as the Internet has offered new 
and easier ways for individuals to obtain false identification 
documents, including Social Security cards.[Footnote 13] 

Aliens Use Fraudulent Documents to Obtain Entry, Employment, and Other 

Aliens and others have used identity theft or other forms of identity 
fraud to create fraudulent documents that might enable individuals to 
enter the country and seek job opportunities. With nearly 200 
countries using unique passports, official stamps, seals, and visas, 
the potential for immigration document fraud is great. In addition, 
more than 8,000 state or local offices issue birth certificates, 
driver's licenses, and other documents aliens can use to establish 
residency or identity. This further increases the number of documents 
that can be fraudulently used by aliens to gain entry into the United 
States, obtain asylum or relief from deportation, or receive such 
other immigration benefits as work permits or permanent residency 

Reportedly, large-scale counterfeiting has made employment eligibility 
documents widely available. For example, in May 1998, INS seized more 
than 24,000 counterfeit Social Security cards in Los Angeles after 
undercover agents purchased 10,000 counterfeit INS permanent resident 
cards from a counterfeit document ring. 

Attempting Entry into the United States with Fraudulent Documents: 

Generally, when a person attempts to enter the United States at a port 
of entry, INS inspectors require the individual to show one of several 
documents that would prove identity and/or authorize entry. These 
documents include border crossing cards, alien registration cards, 
nonimmigrant visas, U.S. passports or other citizenship documents, 
foreign passports or citizenship documents, reentry permits, refugee 
travel documents, and immigrant visas. 

At ports of entry, INS inspectors annually intercept tens of thousands 
of fraudulent documents presented by aliens attempting to enter the 
United States. As table 1 shows, INS inspectors intercepted over 
100,000 fraudulent documents annually in fiscal years 1999 through 
2001. Generally, about one-half of all the intercepted documents were 
border crossing cards and alien registration cards.[Footnote 14] 

Table 1: Number and Type of Fraudulent Documents Intercepted by INS 
Inspectors, Fiscal Years 1998 through 2001: 

Type of document: Border crossing cards; 
Fiscal year 1998: 30,631; 
Fiscal year 1999: 30,797; 
Fiscal year 2000: 38,650; 
Fiscal year 2001: 30,419. 

Type of document: Alien registration cards; 
Fiscal year 1998: 28,137; 
Fiscal year 1999: 33,308; 
Fiscal year 2000: 34,120; 
Fiscal year 2001: 26,259. 

Type of document: Nonimmigrant visas; 
Fiscal year 1998: 13,551; 
Fiscal year 1999: 18,003; 
Fiscal year 2000: 17,417; 
Fiscal year 2001: 21,127. 

Type of document: U.S. passports and citizenship documents; 
Fiscal year 1998: 14,546; 
Fiscal year 1999: 22,142; 
Fiscal year 2000: 17,703; 
Fiscal year 2001: 18,925. 

Type of document: Foreign passports and citizenship documents; 
Fiscal year 1998: 11,245; 
Fiscal year 1999: 14,695; 
Fiscal year 2000: 15,047; 
Fiscal year 2001: 15,994. 

Type of document: Reentry permits and refugee travel documents; 
Fiscal year 1998: 271; 
Fiscal year 1999: 1,107; 
Fiscal year 2000: 153; 
Fiscal year 2001: 702. 

Type of document: Immigrant visas; 
Fiscal year 1998: 790; 
Fiscal year 1999: 663; 
Fiscal year 2000: 447; 
Fiscal year 2001: 597; 

Type of document: Total; 
Fiscal year 1998: 99,171; 
Fiscal year 1999: 120,715; 
Fiscal year 2000: 123,537; 
Fiscal year 2001: 114,023. 

Source: INS data. 

[End of table] 

Attempting to Obtain Employment with Fraudulent Documents: 

The availability of jobs is one of the primary magnets attracting 
illegal aliens to the United States. Immigration experts believe that 
as long as opportunities for employment exist, the incentive to enter 
the United States illegally will persist and efforts at the U.S. 
borders to prevent illegal entry will be undermined. The Immigration 
Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986[Footnote 15] made it illegal for 
employers to knowingly hire unauthorized aliens. IRCA requires 
employers to comply with an employment verification process intended 
to provide employers with a means to avoid hiring unauthorized aliens. 
The process requires newly hired employees to present documentation 
establishing their identity and eligibility to work. From a list of 27 
acceptable documents, employees have the choice of presenting 1 
document establishing both identity and eligibility to work (e.g., an 
INS permanent resident card) or 1 document establishing identity 
(e.g., a driver's license) and 1 establishing eligibility to work 
(e.g., a Social Security card). Generally, employers cannot require 
the employees to present a specific document. Employers are to review 
the document or documents that an employee presents and complete an 
Employment Eligibility Form, INS Form 1-9. On the form, employers are 
to certify that they have reviewed the documents and that the 
documents appear genuine and relate to the individual. Employers are 
expected to judge whether the documents are obviously fraudulent. INS 
is responsible for checking employer compliance with IRCA's 
verification requirements. 

Significant numbers of aliens unauthorized to work in the United 
States have used fraudulent documents to circumvent the employment 
verification process designed to prevent employers from hiring them. 
For example, INS data showed that about 50,000 unauthorized aliens 
were found to have used 78,000 fraudulent documents to obtain 
employment over the 20-month period from October 1996 through May 
1998. About 60 percent of the fraudulent documents used were INS 
documents; 36 percent were Social Security cards, and 4 percent were 
other documents, such as driver's licenses. Also, we noted that 
counterfeit employment eligibility documents were widely available. 
For instance, in November 1998 in Los Angeles, INS seized nearly 2 
million counterfeit documents, such as INS permanent resident cards 
and Social Security cards, which were headed for distribution points 
around the country. 

Attempting to Obtain Other Benefits with Fraudulent Documents	Aliens 
have also attempted to use fraudulent documents or other illegal means 
to obtain other immigration benefits, such as naturalization or 
permanent residency. Document fraud encompasses the counterfeiting, 
sale, or use of false documents, such as birth certificates, 
passports, or visas, to circumvent U.S. immigration laws and may be 
part of some benefit application fraud cases. Such fraud threatens the 
integrity of the legal immigration system. 

Although INS has not quantified the extent of immigration benefit 
fraud, agency officials told us that the problem was pervasive and 
would increase.[Footnote 16] In one case, for example, an immigration 
consulting business filed 22,000 applications for aliens to qualify 
under a legalization program. Nearly 5,500 of the aliens' claims were 
fraudulent and 4,400 were suspected of being fraudulent. In another 
example, according to an INS Miami District Office official, during 
the month of January 2001 its investigative unit received 205 leads, 
of which 84 were facilitator cases (e.g., cases involving individuals 
or entities who prepare fraudulent benefit applications or who arrange 
marriages for a fee for the purpose of fraudulently enabling an alien 
to remain in the United States). In both of these examples, fraudulent 
documents played a role in the attempts to obtain immigration benefits.
Identity Theft and Fraudulent Documents Can Be Components of Serious 
Crimes	Federal law enforcement officials have acknowledged that 
identity theft often is an essential component of many criminal 
activities, ranging from bank and credit card fraud to international 
terrorism. At a May 2, 2002, press conference to announce an 
initiative to crack down on identity theft, the Attorney General said 

"In addition to the credit card and financial fraud crimes often 
committed, identity theft is a major facilitator of international 
terrorism. Terrorists have used stolen identities in connection with 
planned terrorist attacks. An Algerian national facing U.S. charges of 
identity theft, for example, allegedly stole the identities of 21 
members of a health club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and transferred 
the identities to one of the individuals convicted in the failed 1999 
plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport." 

The events of September 11, 2001, have increased the urgency of being 
able to effectively authenticate the identity of individuals. 

Alien Smugglers Use Fraudulent Documents: 

In addition to using identity theft or identity fraud to enter the 
United States illegally and seek job opportunities, some aliens have 
used fraudulent documents in connection with serious crimes, such as 
narcotics trafficking and terrorism. For instance, according to INS, 
although most aliens are smuggled into the United States to pursue 
employment opportunities, some are smuggled as part of a criminal or 
terrorist enterprise. 

INS believes that its increased enforcement efforts along the 
southwest border have prompted greater reliance on alien smugglers and 
that alien smuggling is becoming more sophisticated, complex, 
organized, and flexible. In a fiscal year 2000 threat assessment, INS 
predicted that fraud in obtaining immigration benefits would continue 
to rise as the volume of petitions for benefits grows and as smugglers 
search for other methods to introduce illegal aliens into the United 
States. Also, INS believes organized crime groups will increasingly 
use smugglers to facilitate illegal entry of individuals into the 
United States to engage in criminal activities. Alien smugglers are 
expected to increasingly use fraudulent documents to introduce aliens 
into the United States. 

Conspirator in World Trade Center Bombing Used Fraudulent Document to 
Enter United States: 

In February 1993, a massive explosion at the World Trade Center 
complex in New York City killed 6 people and injured approximately 
1,000 others. According to a report by the Department of Justice's 
Office of the Inspector General: 

"One of the conspirators in the World Trade Center bombing entered the 
country on a photo-substituted Swedish passport in September 1992. The 
suspect used a Swedish passport 'expecting to pass unchallenged 
through the INS inspection area at New York's Kennedy Airport-since an 
individual bearing a valid Swedish passport does not even need a visa 
to enter the United States.' When the terrorist arrived at John F. 
Kennedy International Airport (JFK), an INS inspector suspected that 
the passport had been altered. A search of his luggage revealed 
instructional materials for making bombs; the subject was detained and 
sentenced to six months' imprisonment for passport fraud. In March 
1994 he was convicted for his role in the World Trade Center bombing 
and sentenced to 240 years in prison and a $500,000 fine."[Footnote 17] 

Furthermore, regarding this terrorist incident, a United States 
Sentencing Commission report noted that, "The World Trade Center 
defendant used, and was in possession of, numerous false 
identification documents, such as photographs, bank documents, medical 
histories, and education records from which numerous false identities 
could have been created."[Footnote 18] 

FBI and State Department Views on Links between Identity Theft or 
Fraud and Terrorism: 

At a February 2002 congressional hearing, an FBI representative 
testified that various FBI field offices had begun criminal financial 
investigative initiatives focusing on fraud schemes having a potential 
nexus to terrorist financing.[Footnote 19] The FBI representative's 
statement for the record included the following point: 

"Terrorist financing methods range from the highly sophisticated to 
the most basic. There is virtually no financing method that has not at 
some level been utilized by terrorists and terrorist groups. 
Traditionally, their efforts have been aided considerably by the use 
of correspondent bank accounts, private banking accounts, offshore 
shell banks, ... bulk cash smuggling, identity theft, credit card 
fraud, and other criminal operations such as illegal drug trafficking. 
(Emphasis added.) 

Also, at a March 2002 congressional hearing, a Department of State 
representative testified that: 

"There often is a nexus between terrorism and organized crime, 
including drug trafficking. ... Both groups make use of fraudulent 
documents, including passports and other identification and customs 
documents to smuggle goods and weapons."[Footnote 20] 

SSA/OIG Investigating Links between SSN Misuse and Terrorism: 

Since the September 11 attacks, the SSA/OIG has reported increasing 
its efforts to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement 
officials to investigate and prosecute SSN misuse, including cases in 
which SSNs may have been used to facilitate or camouflage terrorist 
crimes.[Footnote 21] In its May 2002 report, the SSA/OIG summarized 
the interim results of a task force investigation ("Operation Safe 
Travel"), which began in September 2001 when SSA/OIG agents developed 
information that individuals working at the Salt Lake City 
International Airport were misusing SSNs for security badge 
applications and employment eligibility verification: 

"Under the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), 
investigators subpoenaed records for all 9,000 airport employees with 
security badges to identify instances of SSN misuse. They identified 
61 individuals with the highest-level security badges and 125 
individuals with lower level badges who misused SSN's. A Federal grand 
jury indicted 69 individuals for Social Security and INS violations. 
Sixty-one of the 69 individuals arrested had an SSN misuse charge by 
the U.S. Attorney. On December 11, 2001, SSA's OIG agents and other 
members of the Operation Safe Travel Task Force arrested 50 
individuals. To date, more than 20 have been sentenced after pleading 
guilty to violations cited in the indictments. Many are now involved 
in deportation proceedings. There were other similar airport 
operations after the Salt Lake City Operation, and more are underway." 

In the May 2002 report, the SSA Inspector General noted that identity 
theft begins, in most cases, with the misuse of an SSN. In this 
regard, the Inspector General emphasized the importance of protecting 
the integrity of the SSN, especially given that this "de facto" 
national identifier is the "key to social, legal, and financial 
assimilation in this country" and is a "link in our homeland security 

Efforts to Prevent Identity Theft and Other Forms of Identity Fraud 
Are Important: 

In its 1999 study of identity theft, the United States Sentencing 
Commission reported that SSNs and driver's licenses are the 
identification means most frequently used to generate or "breed" other 
fraudulent identifiers.[Footnote 22] Also, in early 1999, following 
passage of the federal Identity Theft Act, the U.S. Attorney General's 
Council on White Collar Crime established the Subcommittee on Identity 
Theft to foster coordination of investigative and prosecutorial 
strategies. Subcommittee leadership is vested in the Fraud Section of 
the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, and membership includes 
various federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies, as well state 
and local law enforcement representation. The subcommittee chairman 
told us that, since the terrorist incidents of September 11, 2001, the 
subcommittee has begun to focus more on prevention. For example, the 
chairman noted that the American Association of Motor Vehicle 
Administrators attended a recent subcommittee meeting to discuss ways 
to protect against counterfeit or fake driver's licenses. 

The May 2002 SSA/OIG report, cited previously, stated that, "while the 
ability to punish identity theft is important, the ability to prevent 
it is even more critical." In this regard, the Inspector General noted 
that effective protections to prevent SSN misuse must be put in place 
at three stages—before issuance of the SSN, during the life of the 
number holder, and upon that individual's death. 

Other prevention efforts designed to enhance technologies in support 
of identification and verification functions include the following: 

* The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 (P.L. 
107-173), signed by the President on May 14, 2002, requires that all 
travel and entry documents (including visas) issued by the United 
States to aliens be machine-readable and tamper-resistant and include 
standard biometric identifiers by October 26, 2004. Also, the act 
requires the Attorney General to install machine readers and scanners 
at all U.S. ports of entry by this date so as to allow biometric 
comparison and authentication of all U.S. travel and entry documents 
and of all passports issued by visa waiver countries. 

* The USA Patriot Act (P.L. 107-56), signed by the President on 
October 26, 2001, has various provisions requiring development of 
technology standards to confirm identity. Under the legislation, the 
Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and 
Technology is to develop and certify accuracy standards for biometric 

In November 2001, to support implementation of the USA Patriot Act, 
the Executive Board of the InterNational Committee for Information 
Technology Standards[Footnote 23] announced establishment of a 
technical committee to help accelerate biometric standardization. In 
its announcement, the Executive Board noted that biometric standards 
will permit faster deployment of better security solutions and also 
greatly help in the prevention of identity theft. 

Chairman Smith and Chairman Gekas, this concludes my prepared 
statement, I would be pleased to answer any questions that you or 
other members of the subcommittees may have. 

Contacts and Acknowledgments: 

For further information regarding this testimony, please contact Richard
M. Stana at (202) 512-8777 or Danny R. Burton at (214) 777-5600. 
Individuals making key contributions to this testimony included 
Michael P. Dino, Bonnie Hall, Shirley A. Jones, Robert J. Rivas, 
Ronald J. Salo, and Ellen T. Wolfe. 

[End of section] 


[1] U.S. General Accounting Office, Identity Fraud: Information on 
Prevalence, Cost, and Internet Impact is Limited, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: May 
1, 1998) and Identity Theft: Prevalence and Cost Appear to be Growing, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: 
Mar. 1, 2002). 

[2] U.S. General Accounting Office, INS Forensic Document Laboratory: 
Several Factors Impeded Timeliness of Case Processing, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 13, 

[3] U.S. General Accounting Office, Immigration Benefit Fraud: Focused 
Approach Is Needed to Address Problems, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31, 

[4] U.S. General Accounting Office, Alien Smuggling: Management and 
Operational Improvements Needed to Address Growing Problem, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, 
D.C.: May 1, 2000). 

[5] Statement of Richard M. Stana, U.S. General Accounting Office, 
Illegal Aliens: Fraudulent Documents Undermining the Effectiveness of 
the Employment Verification System, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: 
July 22, 1999), before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, 
Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives. 

[6] U.S. General Accounting Office, Illegal Aliens: Significant 
Obstacles to Reducing Unauthorized Alien Employment Exist, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 2, 

[7] These estimates are approximations based on the judgment and 
experience of agency officials. 

[8] The duration of this agency's fraud alerts can vary from 2 to 7 
years, at the discretion of the individual consumer. 

[9] An aggregate figure—totaling the number of fraud alerts reported 
by the three consumer reporting agencies—may be misleading, given the 
likelihood that many consumers may have contacted more than one 
agency. During our review, we noted that various Web sites—-including 
those of two of the three national consumer reporting agencies, as 
well as the FTC's Web site—-advise individuals who believe they are 
the victims of identity theft or fraud to contact all three national 
consumer reporting agencies. 

[10] SSA/OIG, Statement for the Record, hearing on SSN misuse before 
the Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means 
(May 9, 2000). 

[11] In compiling case statistics, the Secret Service defined 
"identity theft" as any case related to the investigation of false, 
fraudulent, or counterfeit identification; stolen, counterfeit, or 
altered checks or Treasury securities; stolen, altered, or counterfeit 
credit cards; or financial institution fraud. 

[12] Statement of Lynne A. Hunt, Section Chief, Financial Crimes 
Section, FBI, hearing on "Internet Fraud: Illegal False Identification 
Websites," before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Senate 
Committee on Governmental Affairs (May 19, 2000). 

[13] Statement of Jane E. Vezeris, Deputy Inspector General of Social 
Security, "The Emergence of Identity Theft as a Law Enforcement Issue 
in California," before the Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and 
Government Information, Senate Committee on the Judiciary (Aug. 30, 

[14] Border crossing cards are issued to Mexican Nationals who 
frequently cross the border for business or pleasure. Most cardholders 
must stay within 25 miles of the border and limit each visit to 72 
hours. Alien registration cards, commonly called green cards, are 
issued to permanent resident aliens. 

[15] P.L. 99-603, 8 U.S.C. 1324a et seq. 

[16] [hyperlink,] (Jan. 31, 

[17] U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, The 
Potential for Fraud and INS's Efforts to Reduce the Risks of the Visa 
Waiver Pilot Program, Inspection Report Number I-99-10 (Mar. 1999). 

[18] United States Sentencing Commission, Economic Crimes Policy Team, 
Identity Theft Final Report (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 15,1999). 

[19] Mr. Dennis M. Lormel, Chief, Financial Crimes Section, FBI, 
Statement for the Record before the Subcommittee on Oversight and 
Investigations, House Committee on Financial Services (Feb. 12, 2002). 

[20] Mr. Rand Beers, Assistant Secretary of State for International 
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Department of State, at a 
hearing on "Narco-Terror: The Worldwide Connection Between Drugs and 
Terrorism," before the Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and 
Government Information, Senate Committee on the Judiciary (Mar. 13, 

[21] SSA/OIG, Social Security Number Integrity: An Important Link in 
Homeland Security, Management Advisory Report, A-08-02-22077 (May 

[22] United States Sentencing Commission, Economic Crimes Policy Team, 
Identity Theft Final Report (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 15,1999). 

[23] The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards 
is sponsored by the Information Technology Industry Council, a trade 
association representing the leading U.S. providers of information 
technology products and services. Also, the InterNational Committee is 
accredited by, and operates under rules approved by, the American 
National Standards Institute. These rules are designed to ensure that 
voluntary standards are developed by the consensus of directly and 
materially affected interests. 

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