ID theft remains a crucial problem in todayís electronic world and it seems to be getting worse. For many people, the information age has been one of convenience and wonder but a new study from a professor at the University of East Anglia in Norfolk, UK suggests that ID theft is more frequent thanks to that wonder.
So head to your favorite clothing store and youíre buying new clothes for the kids to start the school year. Youíve spent $400 but youíve gotten some nice things and youíre checking out. You head to the counter, hand them youíre credit card. They swipe the card, hand it back to you, and provide you with the receipt to sign. Everything seems as normal. The problem is you never signed your credit card on the back and they didnít ask for identification to verify you are who you say you are.
Now, imagine the trip to the grocery store after the your school clothes trip. You spend another $250. You head to the check out and grab your check/debit card. You draw a blank for a moment and forget your number so the clerk, being nice, just swipes the card and you sign for it. They didnít check for a signature nor did they ask for ID again.
Now, you debit card disappears. You couldíve sworn you left it in another purse or pair of pants but itís a couple of days before you notice itís gone. Someone else went to another clothing store and another grocery doing the same things you did and no one asks them for ID either. As technology gets easier, people become less involved with checking and following up on these types of things and thatís just what criminologist Dr. Emily Finch of the University of East Anglia is talking about in her research.
Dr. Finch plans to speak to the BA Festival of Science in Dublin on Wednesday to present her findings. She claims one ID technologies, ďchip and pinĒ isnít nearly so secure, saying it isnít really an improvement at all because criminals adapt their tactics to get around them.
She told the BBC, "What fraudsters know about is human nature. They know about people, they know how we operate, and they know how relationships of trust in which information is disclosed develop."
She says this leads to all kinds of problems because then, these thieves get the relevant financial information and use it to apply for credit cards, loans, etc. using the stolen identification.
There are already tons of ID theft problems out there. Banks lose information all the time. They lose it during shipping, they have employees sell the information or sometimes the leave the information where they shouldnít and it is inadvertently stolen.
The problem with this particular form of ID theft is that many times, this could be prevented the first time the card is used. There are places where itís a problem like at gas stations when you pay at the pump and ATM machines that donít always require PINs. Most places though, when people use credit cards, if the clerks would just check the ID, it would be a problem.
Chip and pin is relatively new at this point but if thereís financial incentive to steal the appropriate information (and there is), then thieves will find a way to make it work. It will help alleviate the problem in the short term but it will recur. Dr. Finch suggest much of this could be avoided with more vigilance on the part of all involved.
It is interesting though, a friend mentioned recently he went to a well known bookseller. He recently paid for his purchase with a personal check (rare I know) and the clerk requested an ID. He promptly pointed out that theyíve never asked for an ID when he was using checks and they said they see the ID on the card. But how often do the check it really?
The age of technology and information is awesome but at the same time a little frightening. As more and more people become familiar with this form of technology and as our country is moving toward its own national identification system via the REAL-ID, itís absolutely imperative that this information be more secure and better protected, even if it means the clerk at your favorite retailer takes an extra 30 seconds to verify who you are.