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Monday, February 26, 2007

The closest I’ve come to a data breach nightmare was several years ago when, as a data broker, I was called by a hysterical man in California who said I had “outed” him from the federal witness protection program. As it turned out, a list I had obtained for a client designated him as a “new homeowner,” which was correct, but obviously a huge mistake. He received the mailing, panicked, called the company sending the advertisement, and they referred him to me. The man never recovered his composure, and ended the conversation saying this could be “costly” for him and his family. Perhaps John T. Healy’s predicament isn’t quite as bad, but it comes very close. The man who stole his identity is in jail convicted of killing a cop. The real Healy learned about this for the first time when a bounty hunter banged down his door. In an article on MSNBC, a statement is made that every potential ID theft victim—and that’s all of us—should memorize: “Now, Healy runs the risk of forever having his name linked with a convicted murderer.” So, identity theft is not always financial, but regardless of whether it’s about being compared with a killer, or the theft of your hard earned money, your private information is “forever” in the hands of business and the bad guys.

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