Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


RaJ Singh


The growth of mobile phone use has paralleled increased reports of identity theft. Identity theft can result in financial loss and threats to a victim's personal safety. Although trends in identity theft are well-known, less is known about individual cell phone users' attitudes toward identity theft and the extent to which they connect it to cell phone use. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine how cell phone use is affected by attitudes toward privacy and identity theft. The study was based on social impact theory, according to which people's attitudes and behavior are affected by the strength and immediacy of others' attitudes and behavior. The research questions concerned the extent to which participants connected cell phone use with decreasing privacy and increasing cybercrime, how the use of biometrics affected cell phone users' attitudes and behavior, and what steps can be taken to reduce the misuse of private information associated with cell phone use. Data collection consisted of personal interviews with representatives from 3 groups: a private biometrics company, individual cell phone users who earn more than {dollar}55,000 a year, and individual cell phone users who earn less than {dollar}55,000 a year. Interviews were transcribed and coded for themes and patterns. Findings showed that interviewees were more likely to see identity theft as a problem among the public at large than in the industries in which they worked. Participants recommended a variety of measures to improve cell phone security and to reduce the likelihood of identity theft: passwords, security codes, voice or fingerprint recognition, and encryption. The implications for positive social change include informing government officials and individual users about the use and abuse of cell phones in order to decrease violations of privacy and identity theft while still promoting national security.