Sunday, December 31, 2006

Identity Theft

It's New Year's Eve (or Old Year's Night as we like to call it) and yet my thoughts are focussed on Identity Fraud/Theft. Why?

Yesterday, a credit card statement turned up - post Christmas credit card statements are grim! Stuffed into the envelope was a leaflet informing me of the growing problem of identity theft. Of course there were the usual helpful tips on keeping your identity safe: shred your statements & use different passwords for each of the websites you visit. It was a gripping read.

But I also got a letter addressed to my 2 year old daughter from another financial institution advising her that Identity Theft was on the rise. It too had similar hints and tips for Identity Theft prevention.

The two institutions that sent these leaflets were purpoting to be eager to help my daughter and I the combat against Identity Theft. Of course, this assistance would be provided for a small monthly charge - what cost your identity after all. I must admit, though, that I struggled to see what these companies were actually doing for the money that they were demanding.

Of course, these companies are relying on our fears and perpetuating the notion that the world is a dangerous place. Of course it is... but one of the safest places to be is in an electronic world. I feel quite safe purchasing goods with a credit card via the wonder of the internet with reputable suppliers. I feel quite safe looking after my financial affairs online. And I still believe that if someone is going to steal my identity, they won't necessarily do it online - they will do it the old-fashioned way.

"The old-fashioned way?" I hear some of you say, "surely identity theft is a new phenomonen?"

Of course it isn't and the online world hasn't made it that much easier really. Those that fall foul of phishing attacks are likely to be the same people that fall foul of more traditional cons. (To understand the traditional cons, "The Real Hustle" on the BBC is a very good series showing how it is done).

So will I be parting with my hard earned cash in order to protect my identity? Nope... I'll look after my identity myself by being vigilant.

Happy New Year....
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