Identity Angel

AI Technologies to Defeat Identity Theft Vulnerabilities

by Latanya Sweeney


When a large number of citizens are at risk to identity theft, national security and economic prosperity are threatened. This work shows that thousands of Americans are at such risk, and introduces technology, named “Identity Angel,” to help. Identity Angel’s goal is to crawl through information available on the World Wide Web (“Web”) and notify people for whom information, freely available on the Web, can be combined sufficiently to impersonate them in financial or credentialing transactions. This is an ambitious goal due to the various types of available information and the many inferences that relate disparate pieces of data. Therefore, the work presented herein focuses specifically on acquiring information sufficient to fraudulently acquire a new credit card using on-line resumes. An imposter needs to learn the {name, Social Security Number, address, date of birth} of a subject. Results show how resumes containing needed information can automatically be found and values harvested, and how many subjects removed such information from the Web once notified.

Keywords: Social Security numbers, homeland security, identity theft, privacy-preserving surveillance, law-enforcement, personal documents, credentials, financial fraud, entity resolution, identity matching, personal identification, artificial intelligence


Sweeney, L. Protecting Job Seekers from Identity Theft. IEEE Internet Computing 10 (2) March 2006. (PDF).
Earlier version: A Guardian Angel Protects You From Identity Theft. Carnegie Mellon University, LIDAP Working Paper 16. Pittsburgh: January 2006.

L. Sweeney. AI Technologies to Defeat Identity Theft Vulnerabilities. AAAI Spring Symposium, AI Technologies for Homeland Security, 2005. (PDF).

In the News

  • In the news: CBS News, Denver, "Angel Protects Those Who Might be Targets for ID Theft," October 20, 2005. (text, video)
  • CBS News, New York, "Why A Resume Could Bring A Job, But Also ID Theft: Identity Theft From Online Resumes On The Rise," Septmber 28, 2005 (text, video)
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 26, 2005, "The Thinkers: Data privacy drives CMU expert's work" (text)

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