Taking Internet Safety To Task…

It’s official! The Task Force to focus on identifying effective online safety tools and technologies, including age and identity verification has been created and was announced today.  If you recall, this Task Force was an important element in the MySpace and Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group announced last month. 

The Task Force is being led by John Palfrey who is the Executive Director at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.  And among its members are organizations concerned with this issue including Non-Profits, Academics, Prominent Internet Businesses and Technology Companies, of which IDology is one of the appointed members.  Other member names you will recognize are AOL, Symantec, Microsoft, Verizon, Google, Facebook, Xanga, Yahoo, WiredSafety.org and more.

Personally I’m excited about this opportunity.  In the press release issued by the Berkman Center today, Palfrey says:

“We should work together – private firms, technologists, experts from the non-profit world and leaders in government – to solve online safety issues as a joint effort.”

I couldn’t agree more with Palfrey.  The task force faces a very difficult issue where there are differing opinions.  I believe all of its members need to keep an open mind and a team approach if we are going to make headway in solving this problem to create a safe online environment for our children.

I look forward to having healthy, productive discussions on the issues at hand.



Filed under Age Verification, child safety, Facebook, Identity verification, Internet Safety, MySpace, protecting kids online, social networking, Xanga

No Phishing At IDology

Customers and non-customers of a credit union recently received fraudulent emails as part of an elaborate phishing scam. It appears that the fraudster included IDology’s brand as part of their attempt to capture consumers banking information by setting up a fake website that looks similar to our corporate website.

First, I would like to emphatically say that IDology is dedicated to consumer privacy and protecting sensitive data. It’s important to understand that while our services might involve consumer interaction, we do not directly target consumers. Our “customers” are businesses. This means we would never capture personal information like a SSN or bank account information from anyone on our website.

Ironically, if the hosting provider had been using our services then we would have spotted the fraud before they could have set up the website. I am wondering how much less phishing scams would occur for financial institutions if the hosting provider required identity verification before they hosted a website.

Here are some great sites to visit to learn more about phishing scams and fake emails and how to recognize them:






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Filed under fraud, identity theft, identity theft crime, Identity verification, phishing scams

Bust-ed Identity Thief Going to Jail

Check out this news and video clip from a San Diego news channel.

It’s really an interesting story and goes to show how being a victim of identity theft isn’t just about your credit card being misused…one of the thieves used a fake identity to get a $9K breast implant procedure done.

Needless to say it also shows the importance of data security and privacy and why you need to be mindful of who has access to what data in your company. The two ladies in this story worked in the billing department of Sharp Healthcare and stole patients social security numbers and financial credit information.

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Filed under identity theft, identity theft crime

MySpace Sees the Identity and Age Verification Light…

Today’s press release out of North Carolina Attorney General’s Office Roy Cooper is a big deal. Here’s the first paragraph:

In a victory for social networking safety, Attorney General Roy Cooper and 49 other attorneys general today announced that MySpace has agreed to significant steps to better protect children on its web site, including creating a task force to explore and develop age and identity verification technology.

It’s been a long 2 years in this education process and the fruits of our labors are finally coming to fruition. Given MySpace’s leadership position and popularity, gaining recognition and cooperation from them will only serve to help advance identity and age verification technologies growth in the market. Here are some words that are music to my ears:

MySpace acknowledged in the agreement the important role of age and identity verification technology in social networking safety and agreed to find and develop on-line identity authentication tools.

Obviously there is still a lot of work to do but I’m glad to see that we are all going to roll up our sleeves together and do what is best for our kids – find a way to help keep them safe online.


Filed under Age Verification, child safety, Identity verification, Internet Safety, MySpace, protecting kids online, Richard Blumenthal, sexual predators, social networking

Weekend At Bernie’s: Real Life Fraud Attempt

Did you see this story?  No, it’s not a joke or a scene from a bad 80’s movie.  Two men actually used an office chair to wheel their dead friend down to a check cashing store in NYC in an attempt to cash the man’s Social Security check.

I think one of the film’s tagline’s sums up this real life caper very well…

Two morans. One corpse.  And the plot thickens…

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Filed under fraud, social security numbers, stolen identity

Annual Fraud Report Hot Off the Press

I got the early edition of Cybersource’s 9th annual fraud report today. I haven’t had time to fully absorb/read all of the information but there were some facts that jumped out at me:

  • 82% of merchants are manually checking orders today with 1 out of 3 orders being manually reviewed. Merchants also indicated that over three-fourths of the orders manually reviewed were accepted.
  • Online merchants increased their spending on manual review staff in 2007 by as much as $100 million.

What does this mean? Online merchants still need to embrace automated fraud detection tools including identity verification to keep pace with the growing ecommerce trends. Of course, the report did cover fraud detection tools as well.

  • More than three-fourth’s of the merchants said they use 3 or more fraud detection tools with the average being 5.
  • The two that top the list are Address Verification (80%) and Card Verification Number (74%). The 3rd tool choice, which is Company Specific Fraud Screens, shows a significant usage drop to 39%.
  • 6% are using out-of-wallet or in-wallet challenge questions

What does this mean? More education is needed about identity verification including KBA solutions. Merchants need to understand the limitations Address and Card Verification Solutions have when it comes to fighting fraud and how using both basic id verification combined with KBA in scenarios where higher verification is needed reduces the need for manual review. We developed a whitepaper specifically for retail merchants last quarter that addresses these issues. I think it is probably time I talk with the marketing department about promoting that paper a bit more…

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Filed under fraud, Identity verification, knowledge based authentication, online retailers

The Most Wonderful (time of the) Year for Online Retailers

The New York Times reports today that:

When the receipts are tallied from this holiday, American consumers will have spent around $29.5 billion at Internet shops, according to projections published by comScore, a market research firm.

And according to Bloomberg:

Online spending growth outpaced total U.S. retail gains. Internet purchases from Nov 1 through Dec 21 increased 19 percent from a year earlier to $26.3 billion, ComScore Inc. said on Dec. 23.

Bloomberg also reports that bricks and mortar retailers are still slashing prices in hopes of avoiding the worst holiday season since 2002.

In comparison, Amazon claims this was the “best season ever.” And while the actual numbers weren’t released, Amazon had some interesting facts to share about their sales that I found both in their press release and in this New York Post article:

  • The busiest day was Dec. 10, when customers ordered 5.4 million items – 62.5 per second.
  • The Nintendo Wii flew off the virtual shelves at a rate of 17 per second
  • It sold enough high-def DVD players to cover seven football fields; auto wrenches to stretch all the way around the Daytona 500 track; and Hannah Montana wigs to outfit the entire audience at her Dec 20 show in Providence, RI.
  • The top DVD stocking stuffers included “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”
  • Top books included “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “I am America (And So Can You)” by Stephen Colbert.

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    Filed under 2007 holiday sales, Amazon, holiday shopping, Internet shopping, online retailers