What Is It?
There is a problem plaguing corporate America today. And it is a serious enough problem that
could have repercussions on the very nature of our economy. This is a problem that can strike any one of us who
ever held a credit card or a bank debit card or ever shopped online. The problem is one that has come to be known
as identity theft. And the repercussions are more than mere identity. Estimates of the financial fall out of
identity theft range from a few billion dollars a year to as much as 480 billion dollars! And experts in the field
of identity theft only claim that it is growing by the day.
Identity theft first
made an appearance in the news headlines when the odd shopper or credit card holder reported the loss of a small
amount of money. Frequently, this was discovered to be related to fraud more than identity theft. One particular
case the made the headlines pertained to a man who had been buying pornography on the Internet and had used his
wife’s credit card. When he was found out, as he ultimately would have been found, he cried identity theft and
lodged a complaint. Turns out the man had not even bothered to cover his tracks. The IP address of his computer was
tracked to the websites he had visited and the hoax of identity theft was quickly discovered and plugged.
But there are several genuine cases of identity theft that occur on an alarmingly frequent basis.
A recent news report mentioned the theft of a lap top from the home of a retired banker that had the credit card
details of over one thousand of the bank’s clients. Why the retired banker had the information was irrelevant. What
was relevant was that the theft was discovered in time to prevent any large scale identity theft. But the thieves
have been getting smarter and better. One of the more common methods of identity theft nowadays involves fraudulent
retailers who set up dummy retail outlets on the banking network and try out stolen credit cards for nominal
charges. Once they are approved, they typically make a large withdrawal from a nearby automated teller machine.
But as the perpetrators of identity theft get smarter, the banks too have begun installing
security features that make it more and more difficult for the fraudsters. Today’s network security systems are
smart enough to enable bankers to spot the first instances of identity theft almost as soon as the theft occurs.
But a lot more needs to be done to restore the faith of the general public in the infallibility of their credit