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Thursday, October 18, 2007


U.S. Representative Michael R. McNulty from New York has introduced the Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2007. Its purpose is to amend the Social Security Act to enhance Social Security account number privacy protections, to prevent fraudulent misuse of the Social Security account number, and to otherwise enhance protection against identity theft, and for other purposes. This is good legislation, and even when we accomplish my concept of granting consumer control over their names and personal data, this law would still stand as an important barrier to accessing individual private information. The Care2 group has a petition drive going that is sponsored by Consumers Union, and you should go there to add your name to the list of people who are concerned about the safety of their sensitive data. There are currently 6,535 signers to the petition; that’s 85 more than when I signed on Wednesday morning. The goal is 20,000 signatures. To help you make up your mind on this issue, Consumers Union in their Consumer Reports publication has the results of a poll released on September 6, 2007. It found that “consumers are routinely asked to provide their social Security numbers and that requests come from a wide variety of businesses, many of which have no clear need to collect these numbers. Other findings were:

• 87 percent of you were asked last year to provide your SS# in whole or part by business or government; 42 percent on the phone or Internet to access goods or services or to verify identity.
• Others looking for your SS# were employers, insurance companies, colleges, cable TV or cell phone cos., utilities, and retailers.
• 78 percent of you don’t want to give up the number, but are afraid it will affect the transaction you are trying to complete.
• 23 percent of Americans have been victims of identity theft or have a family member who was.
• A whopping 97 percent of you want remedies to help thwart potential fraud. You can have this if you join my grass-roots movement to give consumers control over their names and personal data and compensate them when it is sold.

There is one disturbing statement in the report, at least to me. “Consumers Union recommends that the sale and purchase of Social Security numbers be tightly restricted,” and they go on to suggest prohibition of using them as identification. I cannot imagine an instance where it would be necessary, certainly not advisable, to sell your Social Security number. And, when my concept of control over your names and private information is adopted, arrangements are made for ID confirmation in a procedure that in no way jeopardizes the individuals’ sensitive data. But you have to jump on the bandwagon and let me know of your support. That’s all, but I do need to hear from you.


Frank Abrahams said...

Dear Sir:
Passing laws requiring disclosure of Identity Theft won't stop the theft. Only a law requiring the IMPLEMENTATION of a method that will give everyone the ability to protect themselves will work. For example: Anyone that wants to protect themself, must enroll THEIR VOICE by make a telephone call to an agency that will record their voice and make a template of it to be stored along with their Social Security number in a National Database. Then, REQUIRE everyone that makes a transaction to have the party benefiting call or BE CALLED (at the request of the other party to the transaction) by the Agency to verify that their LIVE voice matches the template in the database proving they really are who they say they are. This technology works 99% of the time, can be implemented by the telephone companies, who can charge for it, and if you will allow me, I will demonstrate it for you. Just call me.

Frank Abrahams

Jack E. Dunning said...

Thank you, Frank, for your interesting comment. I agree that the only way to halt the identity crisis is to give control to the individual over their name and personal data. That is what my blog is all about, as you can see from the statement under the title. However, I am not sure enough about the voice application to accept that technology, but I think the idea is intriguing. My concept is basically 100% effective with the consumer approving any transaction of their sensitive data with their ID and a pin number, and costs the individual nothing. I will be watching for additional media coverage of the voice approach in the future.

Thanks again for your comment.

Jack E. Dunning
The Dunning Letter