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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Identity Theft Problem

The "identity theft" problem always seemed bizarre to me.

Suppose someone finds out my Social Security Number and other personal identifying information. That person is able to take out a bunch of loans using my credit history. Now, it's *MY* problem that someone else has committed fraud. I'm presumed "guilty until proven innocent". I'm now unable to borrow money. My bank account or wages may be garnished to pay this illegitimate debt.

Why should someone with a few numbers and names be allowed to borrow money and pin the blame on me?

Even worse, suppose I actually am the victim of identity theft. The bank is legally the victim, and not me. I don't have the ability to press charges or collect damages for the inconvenience. If the bank and police decide it's better to write off the loss, then the criminal gets away with it.

The criminal is protected by the State! The State has granted the criminal sovereign immunity, even though the criminal has broken the State's law! If something is illegal, but there's no punishment for doing it, then it's effectively legal. In identity theft cases, frequently the bank and the State write it off as a loss, instead of pursuing the criminal.

The identity theft problem is a symptom of a corrupt system.


Anonymous said...

Yes a symptom. Plus:

- A very strong ad campaign to sell useless services to a fool who is scared shi*less, and cannot put together a reasonable "hands-off-me" letter and claim his right to %50 liability.

- A good ad campaign for a more totalitarian state. Danger is lurking everywhere, you know.

Do you want to pay into my SSI account by working illegally showing my number? Somehow that is considered also a crime of an identity theft!

Mike Gogulski said...

I've been wondering what would happen if, say, a large number of people just up and POSTED all of their "official ID" on the interwebs.

Kristjan Velbri said...

There's a really good book on the topic, titled No Place To Hide. It tells the story of the PATRIOT Act of 2001 and the consequences of giving companies limitless power as was done following the attacks of September 11th.
I read it and recommend it to everyone. You can have a discount right now, if you hurry ($5.99). I think this is something everyone has to know these days, because it's a danger lurking in the shadows.

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