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Thursday, June 23, 2005

No Matter Where You Look, Identity Theft Is Rampant

On June 18, I posted on off-shore warehousing of your name and personal data and sent you to a site well worth your time. It was, and, just in case you missed it, the title is: Advance Warning: Lobbyists Don’t Want Us To Own Our Own Identities, and are moving data offshore to avoid regulation. DA, the site’s able master, is convinced, and I agree, that the lobbyists in Congress from the data broker industry have a new goal: move all our personal data overseas to avoid U.S. laws and regulation.

Just this morning I received an e-mail from Mac Haque, my Bangladesh connection, calling attention to an article in The Register: The Sun exposes UK ID theft racket at Indian call centre. It reports on the sale of thousands of UK banking records, including credit card numbers, etc., all of which can be used for identity theft. The Register journalist actually bought 1,000 private records from a “crooked” call centre worker. Along the same lines, Mac, himself, had a very interesting post on the subject, which I referenced on June 15: Identity Theft: Each one, Reach one, Teach one.

Stealing names and personal data is not new. I was in the junk mail business selling names for thirty-five years and experienced it first-hand. While sitting in a client’s office during my second year in the business, we were interrupted by his assistant who said she had an emergency. The short version is that some hustler had stolen the names and private information of several thousand buyers of a major encyclopedia company and wanted to sell them. It was an inside job and they caught the perpetrator as a result of my client’s cooperation. Just one of thousands of incidents you never heard about.

Bob Sullivan, technology correspondent for MSNBC, has the latest information on ID theft from Gartner, Inc., a research and survey firm. They found that one-third of the population are “‘very concerned’ about being victims of identity theft…” Sullivan’s article, ID theft concerns grow, tools lacking, just shows the inadequacy of this Congress to act on such an important problem. It also points out some anxiety from recent identity theft incidents over the effect it is having on e-commerce. As usual, it takes a hit on big business to accomplish anything for us poor consumer slobs.

Folks, won’t you agree that the current Washington gang, at least the side of the aisle that unanimously favors the needs of big business, will probably oppose any legislation that would give you the means to really protect yourself against identity theft? Passing state laws would be a legal and logistical nightmare. There’s only one solution. We all have to get together in a grass roots effort to pass a federal law that will give us 100% control over our name and personal data.

Discuss it with your friends. Send op-ed articles to your local newspaper. Contact talk radio shows and tell them how you feel. Call, write, or e-mail your Congressional representatives. Give me your comments on my blog, which I will pass along to members of Congress. In general, get active over this subject so, together, we can get the job done.


Anonymous said...

You don't have to look far for examples of scams. Just look in your local classified ads.

The Dallas Observer (among others) ran an ad that in their help wanted section that requested interested parties to fax their resume to the company, and fill out an online application form.

I have first hand experience with this. My daughter responded unwittingly and we were paid a visit by some grubby looking fellow with an axe to grind. Seems that as part of their application process, they want you to open a bank account and provide them with the information for "direct deposit" purposes.

A few days later money appears in the account and she gets a phone call with instructions on what to do with the money.

Apparently, this money was taken from someone elses account and deposited into my daughters. The grubby looking axe grinder stated that my daughter had taken money out of his daughters account and the bank had given him our address. This i find odd, I still have to follow up on the bank giving out our information (if that is indeed the case, theres privacy issues there).

The moral of my story is there no controls or checks in place at any of these until now "trusted" outlets of information. If a newly graduated high school person cannot trust the Dallas Observer (or an ad placed therein) who can they trust? There aren't any classes in High school that teach common sense.

Anonymous said...

You are all idiots and I am tired of you. Every day I see silly plans for "saving" some part of an individuals freedom. Over half of them consist of passing some new federal law.The government is big and rapacious. Point to me where identity theft occurs where the government has not paved the way. Social Security numbers, banks must provide information, airlines search everyone, ad nauseum. Throwing a grain of sand at this issue, this disaster will have the expected result: something in your eye before the tsunami washes over you.

Jack E. Dunning said...

To the "Dallas Observer" writer...

Sorry to hear of your problem. I doubt seriously if any bank would participate in this kind of thing. Honestly, the "grubby looking fellow" and his absurd request should have rung numerous bells.

If you and your daughter had 100% control over your names and personal data, like I recommend, this could not have happened. Why don't you join my grass-roots effort to pass legislation for this purpose.

Jack E. Dunning

Jack E. Dunning said...

to "tired" anonymous...

Not sure I agree with you about the government paving the way for all identity theft. But you are correct that the feds do have a part in the overall scenario. The Patriot Act is a good example. Regardless, we do need the federal legislation in this matter or you or I could be next. Why don't you join my grass-roots effort.

Jack E. Dunning

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