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Report of Cognitive Research to Develop the 2008 NCVS Identity Theft Supplement

Theresa DeMaio, Jennifer Beck, and Dawn Norris

KEY WORDS: identity theft, cognitive interviews, pretesting


Staff in the Center for Survey Methods Research in the Statistical Research Division conducted cognitive pretesting of a newly-developed Identity Theft Supplement for the 2008 National Crime Victimization Survey. Twenty-four cognitive interviews were conducted in eight rounds between May and August, 2007. The results showed the following: 1) respondents think about their identity theft incidents as a single unit, and when they are asked separately about actual identity thefts and then attempted identity thefts, they tend to overreport incidents of actual identity thefts; 2) the field-coded response categories for the question about how respondents first found out about the misuse of their personal information were incomplete; 3) respondents frequently incorrectly identified the Federal Trade Commission as a law enforcement agency; 4) respondents had a very strict definition of what it means to know something about the person who misused their information and were reluctant to incriminate people; and 5) respondents consistently misinterpreted the sponsorís definition of an information breach and were unable to answer the question correctly. A complete list of findings as well as recommendations to address the findings are included in the attached report.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: December 3, 2007
Last revised: December 3, 2007

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010