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Monday, August 13, 2007


Eric Ellman is a lobbyist for the Consumer Data Industry Assn. (CDIA), and according to an article in USA Today, he goes to work every day “prepared to explain why identity theft isn’t as big a threat as people think.” He is the kind of mis-information artist that has turned millions of Americans into “Apathetics. This is my term for those of you that have quit worrying about the security of your identity because you think it will never happen to you. It may not…but, it just might, and you’re hung up with an average of over $5,000 in losses, plus another $500 to clear it all up, taking 25 hours of your time in the process. There were 8.4 million identity theft victims in 2006, or one in 27, according to Javelin Research, and that’s much better odds than any lottery. So what is Eric Ellman working on today that deserves attention? He is looking for a federal answer to stem the flow of state laws that allow consumers to freeze their credit information. Companies like the big three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, paid CDIA $1.4 million in 2006 to take back the personal data that they make billions of dollars on every year. These are the same people that, when you apply for a mortgage loan, sell your name overnight to competing mortgage brokers that hound you forever by telephone and/or mail. CDIA even sent Ellman to Montana to help defeat one of the toughest pro-consumer credit freeze bills in the country. He failed. A credit freeze is a good band-aid for the identity crisis, but won’t solve the problem. The only answer is to give consumers control over their names and private information, and, while we’re at it, compensate them when it is sold. I’d give anything to know what Mr. Ellman thinks of that concept.

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