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Subject: [IP] An Identity Protection Racket?

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To:
  • Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 18:24:28 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: July 26, 2006 6:14:36 PM EDT
To: Dave Farber <>
Subject: An Identity Protection Racket?

I just called to activate my new debit card and had to endure a spiel about why I should sign up for their credit reporting system in order to protect me from identity theft.

In my mind I translated the message &#x2013; the bank says that they are using a simplistic and mindless system to establish my &#x201C;identity&#x201D;. Today banks make a large part of their money off fees like those for bounced checks.

Identity theft is a bonanza for the banks &#x2013; they can charge me a fee that is a result of their ineptness. If consumers weren&#x2019;t so na&#xEF;ve they wouldn&#x2019;t put up with having the banks create a problem and then charging them for the antidote.

If consumer verification of information is an essential part of the system shouldn&#x2019;t the onus be on the banks and others to provide such information as a matter of course rather than charging for it.

As long as we call it &#x2018;identity theft&#x201D; rather than &#x201C;bank sloppiness&#x201D; we&#x2019;ll continue to pay for the damage and find ourselves paying for protection.

It&#x2019;s another example of a self-perpetuating system. It&#x2019;s not just telecom that has such perverse incentives (as I point out in http://

At least for &#x201C;identity&#x201D; there may be opportunities for alternative systems &#x2013; the primary advantage of today&#x2019;s simplistic systems is that they don&#x2019;t require communicating with a third party. With a connected infrastructure there should be far better solutions &#x2013; though, of course, such integration creates an irresistible point of observation and control &#x2026; maybe I should start establishing new personas

Fob Bankston


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