2008: More ID Theft

The identity theft scourge is only going to get worse in 2008 as perpetrators — in pursuit of easy money — get younger and pop up in developing countries.  Those are among the sobering conclusions of a new report on ID theft by the Identity Theft Resource Center.

Driving the surge: easy availability of sophisticated forgery equipment, lax security measures at businesses that handle mountains of data, and a deluge of viruses. For those of you who have been keeping up with the news this should come as no surprise. What really scares me about this report is that they predict that businesses will introduce or refresh their security policies, lawmakers will enact legislation that limits the use of Social Security numbers, and states and nonprofits will provide more assistance to victims at no charge. Uhh, yeah, right. The first prediction is a stretch, and simplistic at that. As far as the second prediction goes, since when has legislation become a cure-all? Look at all the companies that are still not complying with PCI or HIPAA. Lastly, assistance for victims at no charge is nice, but that occurs after the fact.

What I predict is that the Federal Trade Commission is going to continue its aggressive approach by going after companies that are not securing customer data. A few days ago there was a press release stating that the FTC told the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security that “identity theft remains one of the highest priorities for the Commission, and that the agency is playing a lead role in preventing identity theft and helping those who are victimized.” As part of its ongoing efforts, the FTC has made available new online tutorial on practical and low- or no-cost ways to keep data secure. Given the FTC’s recent enforcement actions. Businesses would be well-advised to take advantage of this resource.

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