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ID Theft: Authentication Not Enough
Contrary to some views, identity theft is indeed about numbers and about money. A recent study by Meridian Research makes the projection that by 2006 the financial institution sector alone will lose $8 billion to identity theft. In addition, an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 people a year become victims of identity theft, and Federal Trade Commission data show that nearly 86,000 people filed identity theft complaints in 2001. Many of those people suffer significant financial loss. Furthermore, when terrorists exploit identity theft, the financial and human costs to society as a whole can be catastrophic.
What's the proper response to identity theft? In a recent Perspectives column, David Holtzman properly notes that the nature of digital communications has helped to create an environment that facilitates identity theft. At the same time, he asserts that identity theft legislation will not effectively contain the problem, in part because "it's too difficult to enforce, let alone prove, for legal action to be an effective deterrent" and because "the basic ammo to load the judicial guns (for enforcement actions)--such as clear guidelines on identity--is not at hand."
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