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Friday, December 22, 2006

2007 Could Be Awash In ID Theft

Creeping “Creepy” Figures

In just October of 2006, Tom Zeller of the New York Times was telling us, “Data breaches near 94 million.” You can see the Chronology of Data Breaches at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse site where they have been keeping track since the ChoicePoint February 2005 awakening. He continues with some figures from the Ponemon Institute, a privacy consulting company, that are really no longer alarming; just a continuing, pathetic illustration of the state of the identity crisis.

The survey found evidence that over fifty percent of corporate laptops have unprotected sensitive data; one out of every ten laptops is stolen, 97 percent of which are never recovered. Of these same firms, 81 percent reported that laptops or similar devices with private information were stolen. Ample reason why all this data is on the street.

What a Difference Eleven Weeks Can Make

And then on December 18, Zeller comes back with an update article: “An Ominous Milestone: 100 Million Data Leaks.” Apparently a breach of 800 thousand records at U.C.L.A, 130 thousand at Aetna, and 382 thousand at Boeing put us over the top. Each included most of the ingredients necessary to lift your identity, including Social Security number, birth data, driver license number, etc. But even that wasn’t the worst of the news.

The Perfect Caper for Organized Crime

I have been blogging for over a year now that ID theft was made for organized crime. This doesn’t have to apply to just the “Wiseguys” of The Godfather era, although there is evidence this group is involved. There’s a new breed of inherent crook—the kind that preys on any opportunity, like the work-at-home scams or a Katrina disaster—that is more sophisticated and technologically minded, and has the patience and means to wait for the right moment.

In the new article, Zeller tells us there is intelligence out there indicating the black market sites for data are becoming conscious of their mother lode, and that it is just a matter of time until they discover the right formula for exploiting your private information. Remember, 100 million personal records are out there. That’s one-third of the U.S. population. I’m betting—but hoping for the opposite—that 2007 will be the year the bad guys figure it all out.


The reason for my hope is that the American consumer will wake up soon and demand that business and government give them control over their names and private information. And pay them each time it is sold. The individual’s window of opportunity is just shy of closing. The ID thief’s is opening wider each day. Contact your congressional representatives: House; Senate.

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