Friday, July 27, 2007

What identity theft?

From InfoWorld:

The GAO reports that identity theft really isn’t a problem. The problem, apparently, is that the process of notifying consumers whenever their personal financial information has been compromised is confusing us simple-minded folks.

Yes, I’ve got that right. It’s not a comedic headline from The Onion.

...Although the report grants that notifying affected consumers has some value, it often seems more concerned about shielding the vendor than protecting the consumer:

"At the same time, breach notification requirements have associated costs, such as expenses to develop incident response plans and identify and notify affected individuals. Further, an expansive requirement could result in notification of breaches that present little or no risk, perhaps leading consumers to disregard notices altogether."

As one commenter notes:

The problem is less with identity theft itself but with the fact that the steps a victim has to go through to correct the problem are flawed. You are guilty until proven innocent with the credit agencies. Even with law enforcement, if your identity is stolen and used for illegal purposes you can be tossed in jail.

One victim testified to that effect during Assemblymember Dave Jones' July 17th hearing on the Top Ten Consumer Complaints. The man described the harrowing experience of being jailed for a theft committed by someone who had used his stolen license as identification. Despite his innocence, he was forced to spend thousands to clear his name.

Identity theft has ranked at number one on the Federal Trade Commission's list of filed complaints for seven years straight.

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