Saturday, September 1, 2007

Social Security Numbers a Very Lucrative Commodity to Identity Thieves

A bill is awaiting final approval by the federal government that would prevent companies (and the government itself) from displaying a social security number on documents such as Medicare cards and military identification cards. The law would also prohibit the sale of the numbers (except in limited circumstances) and require the federal government to change their system and generate a different means of identification. Although it appears as though the bill may proceed through Congress and become a law - protecting unassuming consumers, this probably will not be the case.

Michael J. Durnack, identity theft expert and President and CEO of Identity Defense believes the public will be the ones to lose if this bill does not pass.

Identity theft has only played a role in our society in the past fifteen years. The technology industry has given birth to computer hackers and other criminals related to the crime of identity theft. Durnack said, "It's a sad state of affairs that the public needs to be so guarded of their personal information, especially their social security number. It often changes behavior and often ends up being counterproductive. People avoid doing business that would actually help them reduce the risk of having their personal information stolen, such as utilizing online banking services and direct deposit."

Durnack goes on to say, "If, as a citizen of the United States, you feel strongly about the federal government taking action to stem the losses and damaging effects of the crime of identity theft, contact your local legislator and let them know that you support the bill - HR 3046 and want to see the 'STUDY ON FEASIBILITY OF BANNING SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT NUMBERS AS AN AUTHENTICATOR' be carried out as quickly as possible".

Social security numbers are becoming a black market commodity to identity thieves all over the world as they attempt to use stolen identities for criminal activity. A social security number is a key identifier that allows thieves to open credit in another name and have even gone as far as using stolen social security numbers when arrested.

Many businesses and institutions are expected to lobby against this bill, or will try to create an exception to the rules to accommodate them. Companies make big money by selling social security numbers to marketing companies, while the federal government and educational institutions would have to create a new system from scratch for identifying their students/employees/members/etc.

An important first step in the fight against identity theft is something that Durnack and his company, Identity Defense, developed to help consumers educate themselves about the crime of identity theft and what can be done to protect personal information ( Identity Defense has created a proprietary ID risk assessment that categorizes the threat level of an individual's risk to identity theft. When the assigned ID risk level has been determined, personalized recommendations for modifying habits and behaviors to reduce risk are offered with Identity Defense's Customized Personal Report (CPR). The process is simple and gives the consumer control of his personal information.

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