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D5.2b: ID-related Crime: Towards a Common Ground for Interdisciplinary Research

General properties with respect to rearrangement of identity linkage  Title:
 Identity change – definition and types


Towards a typology of rearrangements of identity linkage

In this section we describe various types of rearrangements of identity linkage with the target to get a better understanding of identity fraud and identity theft. In this context we examine identity collisions, changes, deletions and restorations. Identity collisions, deletions and restorations are not described in depth and comprehensively; they are introduced to get a better understanding of borderlines between various types of rearrangements of identity linkage.

Identity collision – definition and types

Legally not relevant, but frequently observed, is a series of identity-referred errors occur which we categorise as identity collision. All types in this category have in common that they take place without intention on the part of those involved.

We can distinguish between the following three types of identity collision: 

  • identifier collision 

  • linking error 

  • role error including role collision  

An identifier collision can happen when the same identifier is mapped to different persons or roles, i.e. the identifiers are not unique per person/role. A typical example of this type is the equality of names of two different persons, which leads to a mixing-up by third parties.


A linking error can happen if an identifier is assigned to the wrong person, e.g. if an identifier is wrongly assigned to a person by mistake because of the similarity of two identifiers that are related to two different persons. Examples are the use of wrong e-mail addresses or mixing up address data, the incorrect recognition of persons in the street or the mixing-up of parents with their child on the telephone due to the similarity of their voices.


A role error can happen by an incorrect assignment of the role. One example for this is a citizen going with a specific request erroneous to a public authority and to a specific office clerk, that is not concerned it this matter.


Role collisions are special cases of role errors. They can happen when different expectations are placed on the persons in the social interaction and these expectations are not met by some or all of those involved (as long as they are not expressed explicitly), which then introduces a conflict.


A typical example of a role collision concerns situations in which one of the actors implies the existence of a friendship that can handle stress, because signs within the communication make him believe this, whereas the other actor interprets the signs differently. This may result in different expectations of both actors with respect to the respective rights and obligations of the parties. 

Another typical constellation of a role collision is one in which possible role changes are not performed simultaneously by the actors involved. This happens, for instance, when a long-term friend does not sell a car to his friend as a friend, but in his/her other role as a professional car dealer and aims at a from his professional perspective optimised price. If the buyer is unaware of this role change, his hopes for favourable conditions may be undeserved. Unless the communication makes explicit the different expectations, such a role collision – which often remains undetected – may result in a conflict or recurring conflicts.  


General properties with respect to rearrangement of identity linkage  fidis-wp5-del5.2b.ID-related_crime_03.sxw  Identity change – definition and types
Denis Royer 19 / 44