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Roots of identity theft run deep

Scott Jagow Jan 27, 2006
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Roots of identity theft run deep

Scott Jagow Jan 27, 2006
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: Data firm ChoicePoint has agreed to pay $15 million for last year’s identity theft security breach. The penalty could be a sign the government is finally cracking down on the fast-growing crime. I bet you know someone who’s been hit or maybe you’ve been hit yourself. I was recently. So was Eric Drew. He started his own ID theft prevention company and he’s going after corporate America.

ERIC DREW: I blame more our system, our financial institutions, the banks, the credit agencies, the people that are buying and selling our personal information — for profit — without our permission or consent, without any liability for what happens to that information or any repercussions that they have if something bad happens or if somebody takes that information and uses it against the victim or against the consumer. You know, if you look at my situation, until the banks realize they conspired to issue credit to a man that lived in a state I’ve never lived in, who lived at an address I’ve never lived at, who did not fit my description. And if they are held liable for it, we’ll start realizing that this is something that they can stop. Right now, they’re not motivated to.

JAGOW: I will say that in my case, I did find out about it because the credit card company called me. So perhaps the tide is changing a bit.

DREW: I would agree with you. I think that the banks are starting to realize that hey, the fingers are pointing at us, not just the banks but the insurance companies and the large marketing companies and the credit agencies are starting to realize, hey, we have a responsibility with this information. We are buying and selling people’s information, which in my opinion, is personal property. If they have information about me, why should I have to proactively go out and opt out of them using my information or selling it for profit? They should have to contact us and have us opt in.

JAGOW: We’ve all heard about the typical protections against ID theft — shredding, credit monitoring and the like — but you say those aren’t enough. Why?

DREW: Well, credit monitoring, let’s take credit monitoring, for example. Identify theft, the universe of identity theft, is much, much greater than credit card fraud. You have, when you think of identity theft as an impersonation crime, impersonation crimes can be anything from someone using your driver’s license number to get out of a speeding ticket. Let’s say you’re a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. Somebody could be using your professional license to open a practice and criminally do business in another part of the state or another part of the country, even. Somebody could be using your bank accounts, wire transferring money, using your checkbooks, washing your checks. Credit monitoring is basically, it’s something that I recommend or we recommend that people do, but only to the extent that you get a free credit report. Now, these agencies that are trying to sell you credit monitoring services and things like that, these are the same agencies that are buying and selling your information for profit. Why should we have to pay them for what should be our personal property? I think it’s extortion, to be honest.

JAGOW: Eric Drew is founder of Knight’s Bridge Castle. In Los Angeles, I’m Scott Jagow. Thanks for listening. Have a great weekend.

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