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ID theft ring an indication of lack of safeguards

LifeLock : 08 August, 2008  (Technical Article)
In the wake of the charging of 11 people for identity theft, Lifelock calls for improved safeguards to be put in place along with stiffer penalties
Following the stunning announcement that the US Justice Department has charged 11 individuals in connection with the largest identity theft case in the nation's history, LifeLock CEO Todd Davis has called on the banking and credit industries to begin taking a proactive role in protecting American consumers threatened by the increase in global ID theft.

"I applaud the efforts of the government in bringing to justice these 11 individuals who are damaging millions of American families. Unfortunately, this case, while representing the largest prosecution in American history, is only the tip of the iceberg in an ever-growing illegal enterprise that is staying one step ahead of the government and the banking and credit industries to steal consumers' identities," said Davis. "The time has come for those that profit in the credit industry - both the banks and the major credit bureaus - to begin working with consumer advocates to proactively protect American consumers from those who would prey on their identity and financial well-being."

Davis, whose company works to protect the identity of more than a million LifeLock members, called on the credit industry to support services that advocate on behalf of busy consumers to register with credit bureaus, and make fraud alerts control identity theft. According to Davis, the credit industry has repeatedly either opposed these services or is reluctant to endorse them, arguing that individuals should bear the burden of managing their credit history alone.

More than 27 million Americans have been victims of identity theft between 2003 and 2007, according to the Federal Trade Commission, and that number continues to grow, said Davis, as banking and credit bureau leaders continue to take a "reactive" approach to protecting the identities of consumers.

Davis would like to see tougher penalties for companies that lose sensitive data and harsher sentences for criminals that engage in identity theft. Under current federal law, thieves who use stolen identities to commit crimes involving terrorism or other major felonies can receive up to five years in prison for the act. Individual states have varying penalties for identity theft, usually fines or short periods of jail time, while local law enforcement officials don't have the resources to set identity theft as a high priority.

"This week's case must serve as a wake-up call for consumers, the credit industry and government agencies. The current status quo in the banking and credit bureau agencies has failed consumers miserably. This week, millions will learn they are the victims of identity theft. Consumers have rights, and we all must work together to ensure their rights are protected and identities remain secure," said Davis, a pioneer in the field of identity protection.
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