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Tuesday, September 18, 2007


It is apparent that, with the widespread apathy over the identity crisis issue—the outlook that it happens to others, not me—most consumers are saying to themselves: “I don’t know if I want the responsibility of this control.” An understandable point in today’s hectic life, but in the long run, not in your best interest. The primary reason is that the situation can only get worse, and here’s the reason why. There were a total of 336 data breaches in 2006 or 28 per month; in 2007, as of Sept. 13, 252 breaches or 29.7 per month. It isn’t a big increase, but neither is it getting better. In 2006, 8.4 million victims suffered an average loss of $5,720, with a total loss of $49.3 billion. Others’ experience can be the learning blocks of your readiness. The next victim could be you. You can see my last Friday’s post for all the ways your sensitive data is maneuvered around the world; and Monday’s piece on how we would take control. Now to the benefits of control. In a national registry similar to the FTC’s Do-Not-Call list, the consumer’s name, address and unique ID number would be recorded. The individual would also be given the opportunity to indicate their interests for what junk mail they want, or to be able to opt-out completely. Every blind transaction—one where the consumer is not a direct participant—in the marketplace (financial, medical, government, etc.) would require validation. An example could be an unsolicited credit card offer that is stolen, the crook tries to open the account, and is prevented doing so because you don’t validate the transaction. It would be possible to pre-clear transactions, like placing orders online, applying for credit, etc., and arrangements would have to be made for select financial, medical, and national security emergencies. In the validation process the consumer would be contacted by e-mail, telephone, or snail mail for confirmation. E-mail and telephone would be instantaneous, using a personal identification number (PIN) selected by you in the registry procedure. A toll-free number would be provided for mail confirmation. After 35 years working with junk mail technology, I can assure you that a fast and practical method for validation can be developed that will be close to effort-free for both the individual and business. Next, the benefits of compensation. Junk mailers take in $4 billion annually from selling your names and personal data. Return one half of that to the consumer; reasonable, since the list industry would have nothing to sell without them. You could take your compensation once a year, around $64, or you could let a non-profit group formed for this purpose invest it at simple interest and supplement your retirement for an average of $607 monthly at age 65. My formula is not a secret, and I would be glad to share it with you if you e-mail me at This plan is not only doable, it has become essential if we are to survive the identity crisis, and bolster Social Security and/or private pension plans. What do you think? Please let me know with your comments.

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