Microsoft corp. is behind a new movement to report the loss or theft of consumers’ personal data from the Internet “underground.” This is an idea whose time has come, which has been tried before by individual companies, but without the central control it needed.
This new program is being overseen by National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance, a non-profit group targeting cybercrime. They also have support from law enforcement agencies, and are joined by the American Bankers Assn. and eBay, with banks, retailers and Internet security firms to be added.
Speed is the key for success since it does take the crooks time to buy or steal the data and eventually use it. In some cases where a large company has a breach and private information is exposed or stolen, the company will offer one year of credit monitoring. The sophisticated bad-guys know this, and will wait to use your Social Security number, credit card, etc. Getting specifics to the right parties fast can protect the destruction of the victim’s credit.
In 2009 there were 11.1 million victims of identity fraud, compared to 9.9 million in 2008, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. The total amount lost by consumers was $54 billion, again an increase over 2008’s $48 billion. James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin says in 2010 we can expect more healthcare ID fraud, where the results are much more damaging than a financial crime.
The only drawback in the Microsoft program is that people cannot anonymously submit their discoveries of lost or stolen personal data. However, if this new reporting trend becomes mainstream with the right coordinated efforts, it should put a big dent in identity theft. But consumer private information is not secure yet so each individual must continue to take precautions.