Document Type



Business Administration

First Advisor's Name

Ronald M. Lee

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dasaratha Rama

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Debra VanderMeer

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

John Zdanowicz

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Kaushik Dutta

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


identity fraud, document credibility

Date of Defense



In broad terms — including a thief's use of existing credit card, bank, or other accounts — the number of identity fraud victims in the United States ranges 9-10 million per year, or roughly 4% of the US adult population. The average annual theft per stolen identity was estimated at $6,383 in 2006, up approximately 22% from $5,248 in 2003; an increase in estimated total theft from $53.2 billion in 2003 to $56.6 billion in 2006. About three million Americans each year fall victim to the worst kind of identity fraud: new account fraud. Names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other data are acquired fraudulently from the issuing organization, or from the victim then these data are used to create fraudulent identity documents. In turn, these are presented to other organizations as evidence of identity, used to open new lines of credit, secure loans, “flip” property, or otherwise turn a profit in a victim's name. This is much more time consuming — and typically more costly — to repair than fraudulent use of existing accounts. This research borrows from well-established theoretical backgrounds, in an effort to answer the question – what is it that makes identity documents credible? Most importantly, identification of the components of credibility draws upon personal construct psychology, the underpinning for the repertory grid technique, a form of structured interviewing that arrives at a description of the interviewee’s constructs on a given topic, such as credibility of identity documents. This represents substantial contribution to theory, being the first research to use the repertory grid technique to elicit from experts, their mental constructs used to evaluate credibility of different types of identity documents reviewed in the course of opening new accounts. The research identified twenty-one characteristics, different ones of which are present on different types of identity documents. Expert evaluations of these documents in different scenarios suggest that visual characteristics are most important for a physical document, while authenticated personal data are most important for a digital document.





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