Identity theft? What identity theft?

One-third of all U.S. adults had their financial identity information stolen or lost in 2006

Phew! We can relax.

The GAO reports that identity theft really isn't a problem. The problem, apparently, is that the process of notifying consumers whenever their personal financial information has been compromised is confusing us simple-minded folks.

Yes, I've got that right. It's not a comedic headline from The Onion.

The SANS NewsBites, one of my top information sources on security news, turned me on to The United States Government Accountability Office's new report to congressional requesters called Personal Information: Data Breaches Are Frequent, but Evidence of Resulting Identity Theft is Limited; However, the Full Extent is Unknown. The 50-page report was developed to assist Congress with crafting all the various data breach notification legislation being proposed (the Data Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 1685), Data Accountability and Trust Act (H.R. 958), Identity Theft Prevention Act (S. 1178), and the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2007 (S. 495), to name a few.) Overall, it's not an entirely bad report, but it comes to nebulous conclusions.

For example, the report concludes that, although online criminal masterminds are stealing tens of millions of financial identities, apparently they are inept at using the captured information ... maybe. The GAO examined the 24 largest data breaches from January 2000 to June 2005 and concluded that only four led to unauthorized financial activity. Who would have thought that all the malicious pros would be content with filling their hard drives with useless information?

We can all rest better, right? Further, although the report grants that notifying affected consumers has some value, it often seems more concerned about shielding the bank than protecting the consumer:

"At the same time, breach notification requirements have associated costs, such as expenses to develop incident response plans and identify and notify affected individuals. Further, an expansive requirement could result in notification of breaches that present little or no risk, perhaps leading consumers to disregard notices altogether."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Roger A. Grimes

Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?