Some folks over at InfoWorld are really championing the prevent identity theft cause these days.
Today Mario Apicella wrote a piece on his personal story with identity theft and the legislation the DOJ has drawn up to combat identity theft. And last Friday, Robert Grimes had commentary disputing some of the GAO’s report that concluded identity theft isn’t really a problem but that the process of notifying consumers whenever their personal financial information has been compromised is. (His sarcasm is really evident just in the headline: Identity Theft? What identity theft?)
Of course I can see how the GAO came to this conclusion because incidents of identity theft can go undetected for years. But I’m thankful to see that the DOJ is taking the strategic plan of the President’s task force to heart and being proactive in protecting both businesses and consumers.
I particularly liked Mario’s slant on the action that should be taken:
“Companies must do their part in combating identity theft – not just wait until mandated by law.”
Yep. We do. And it involves company culture. Protecting and preventing identity theft is not just a back office IT concern. It’s also a customer service concern because protecting a business should focus on protecting your consumers. This leads to a sales and marketing concern since happy customers often drive more sales. Of course, finance is already concerned because of the losses and costs associated with identity theft. And then finally HR is concerned since employees are the one’s delivering all the above.
Really I don’t see any part of a business that should not be concerned with the impact of identity theft and wanting to be proactive about preventing it.
The personal details of over half a million US service personnel and their relatives may have been compromised by a Pentagon contractor according to this source. The risk comes from data that was sent unencrypted over the Internet which contained personal information including social security numbers, birth dates and health information.
The contract company at fault for this expects to spend at least between $7M – $9M dealing with the consequences of the lapse in their security protocol, but could end up spending more if incidents of identity theft start to occur.
In case you missed it, here is the Military personnel prime targets for ID theft article that appeared in USA Today last month telling us that 30 million of the more than 100 million personal records reported lost or stolen in the USA since 2006 were from active and retired service members.
Those of you not reading Harry Potter this weekend might want to check out Terri Cullen’s book “The Wall Street Journal’s Complete Identity Theft Guidebook: How to Protect Yourself from the Most Pervasive Crime in America.”
Terri is the WSJ’s personal finance columnist. If you read the paper yesterday you might have seen her piece adapted from the book on how to use your credit report to protect against identity theft. In it she discusses what you need to examine on your report, how you should go about correcting errors and the downsides of freezing your credit. There is also a list of services that will monitor reports from all three credit bureaus for you (similar to our partner ID Watchdog but focused solely on credit)
In this WSJ podcast, Terri discusses identity theft – including the newer kinds of identity crime happening in the medical and employment fields – and comments how most people don’t really pay attention to this stuff until someone they know or they themselves become a victim.
She’s right. Even though it seems we can’t go a day without some sort of data breach or identity theft news popping up. I’m betting the concern or fear most people feel when reading these articles hasn’t been enough to overcome their inertia and thoughts of “it won’t happen to me.”
Amy Tiemann has a blog post on CNET titled Online Safety Needs to Go Beyond “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” The focus of the post is on an Internet Prevention Messages research study to explore the odds for online interpersonal victimization (i.e. unwanted sexual solicitation or harassment) of youth ages 10-17 published in the February issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. The study concludes:
Talking with people known only online (“strangers”) under some conditions is related to online interpersonal victimization, but sharing personal information is not. Engaging in a pattern of different kinds of online risky behaviors is more influential in explaining victimization than many specific behaviors alone. Pediatricians should help parents assess their child’s online behaviors globally in addition to focusing on specific types of behaviors.
What I find really encouraging is the active role pediatricians are taking to protect children online by publishing the results of the study and saying how pediatricians can help parents. This supports my “It Takes a Village” theory that we all need to be active participants in protecting children in our virtual world – the responsibility does not solely rest on the parents. Especially when you consider the final finding of this study which Amy comments on at the end of her post:
A final finding, that the risk for online victimization is elevated when kids experience offline abuse, victimization or conflict with their parents, underscores the complexities of the situation and the need for social protection through sound laws and public policy.