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Identity theft complaints: exploring the state‐level correlates

George E. Higgins (University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
Thomas “Tad” Hughes (University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
Melissa L. Ricketts (Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, USA)
Scott E. Wolfe (University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 18 July 2008




Identity theft is an emerging form of criminal behavior, with complaints about the behavior rising. However, little research has explored the correlates of these complaints, especially state‐level correlates. The purpose of this paper is to examine the state‐level characteristics correlated with identity theft complaints.


The present study uses data collected from the 2000 US census and the Federal Trade Commission's 2002 through 2005 reports on identity theft. Regression is used to determine explain identity theft complaints through state‐level characteristics from social disorganization to routine activities theory.


The results indicate that states with more males, higher residential mobility, and more entertainment establishments are likely to have more identity theft complaints. States with more populations that are age 15 and below are less likely to have as many identity theft complaints.

Research limitations/implications

The present study only examines state‐level, macro data and does not take into account individual, micro‐level factors that are associated with identity‐theft. This study provides an important advance in understanding identity theft complaint reports. This will aid policy makers in implementing strategies to reduce incidences of identity theft.


This paper is valuable to sociologists, criminologists, politicians, policy makers, and the general public. It contributes to the current understanding of identity theft by examining state‐level correlates.



Higgins, G.E., “Tad” Hughes, T., Ricketts, M.L. and Wolfe, S.E. (2008), "Identity theft complaints: exploring the state‐level correlates", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 295-307.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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