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Tuesday, March 04, 2008


You’re probably tired of hearing me talk about how very bad the identity crisis issue is, and quoting statistics that firmly support my statements. I’m frankly tired of having to make this pitch on almost a daily basis, but I do it because the American public has not yet developed a “level of inertia” that drives them to take the proper steps to protect against the fraud. So says Steven Domenikos in his recent article, “Fighting the battle against identity theft” on ZDNet. He also cites two factors that are key in how ID theft is growing at such a rapid pace. First, consumers do not understand the whole concept of identity theft. Second, the way the individual’s sensitive data is spread around databases worldwide provides potential universal and unlimited access by the bad guys. I would add a third: most people think it could never happen to them, so they let others worry about it. I call these the “Apathetics,” those with that low level of inertia mentioned earlier. Domenikos tells us that, even though the crooks have become more sophisticated, as evidenced in phishing and file-sharing scams, they still look in your garbage and steal from your mailbox. Some folks just make it so easy, like not shredding unsolicited credit card offers. ZDNet reports that there is a new trend in ID theft protection, and that is predicting the consumer’s risk factor before it happens. One such company is Identity Truth who uses a combination of your personal factors and behavioral modeling techniques to provide early notification of a possible threat. There is another company with similar services, Identity Finder, which locates where your private information resides outside your control, and gives you the option to shred, quarantine, or move it to a secure location. Both of these companies offer services for a fee that appear to have potential in guarding against identity theft, as compared to the offers that protect you doing what you can do yourself, some with limited success. But time will tell whether or not these new strategies are effective, and we are not yet at that point. Domenikos says further that the “single strongest protection against identity theft would be to not give out any personal information, which is virtually impossible and completely unrealistic in today’s society.” Part two of that statement is correct, but part one is only partially correct. We could still give out our personal data if consumers were granted control over their names and private information. With that kind of situation, we could all sleep at night knowing that out identity is secure in our own hands. And the best part is that it wouldn’t cost consumers a penny.

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