Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Identity theft is easier than many people think.

Motoring television presenter Jeremy Clarkson has been forced to eat some uncharacteristic humble pie after playing down the severity of Labour's lost data scandal. The Top Gear host was so sure that the furore over the lost CDs of data was nothing but "a storm in a teacup" he printed his own bank details in a newspaper, convinced his money would be safe. He also included instructions on how to find his address on the electoral roll and gave details about the car he drives, claiming he had "nothing to fear" from identity fraud.

But the exercise left the newspaper columnist with egg on his face when he had to admit that he had been the target of an internet scam. An unidentified reader copied his details and set up a £500 direct debit from his account payable to the British Diabetic Association.

...So this sad tale demonstrates just how easy identity theft is to commit. The banks will never reveal just how much they are having to write off due to identity theft when they reimburse account holders. However, at the end of the day it is the customer who pays for this fraud. We all get robbed in the end and it is sad how many people are happy to give their information away.
Comments:
There is something deeply satisfactory about watching Mr Clarkson admit his error....

However, worryingly he didn't actually "give away" much about his account: all of that information is on a cheque. So if I order something from a company and give them a delivery address, will I end up donating unexpectedly to an unspecified cause?
 
The risk is there if any employee copies your data and uses it for criminal purposes. Any criminal who accesses the company data by whatever means - computer hacking or traditional burglary - can put you at great risk. That is why data protection is so important. This is why I am amazed at the number of people who are so happy to complete Customer Service Questionaires, the same data harvesting questionaires that line managers demand employees encourage passengers to complete so that their depot gets a better placing in the league tables.
 
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