Your personal info isn’t worth much

Dan Grech Apr 8, 2008

Your personal info isn’t worth much

Dan Grech Apr 8, 2008


Kai Ryssdal: I don’t know how to break this to you, so I’m just going to come right out and say it: you’re not worth as much as you think you are.

Not in a net-worth kinda way; that’s none of anybody’s business. More in a personal information kinda way: Social Security numbers, credit card accounts, all those things we try so hard to protect.

A report today from the internet security firm Symantec says your numbers don’t add up to much.

Marketplace’s Dan Grech reports.

Dan Grech: Ah, for the good old days, when there was real money to be made in petty theft.

The Symantec report found stolen credit card information sold for as little as 40 cents.

How about your full bank account credentials? As low as 10 bucks.

Kevin Haley tracks Internet fraud for Symantec.

Kevin Haley:: Some credit cards in the U.S. are easy to get, other European countries, not so easy to get, and that affects the price they’re charged, just like a regular economy.

The underground internet economy is getting more sophisticated. Bob Sullivan is author of “Your Evil Twin: Behind the Identity Theft Epidemic.”

Bob Sullivan: There are now these toolkits, so instead of having to be a programmer yourself, you go to some other broker who sells you a piece of software that might look like a new piece of Microsoft software. You install it, drag and drop a few things and next thing you know, you’re renting time on hijacked computers and sending out millions of e-mails an hour.

So why have prices for stolen information dropped? The Symantec folks say its supply and demand — cyberfraud attacks increased five-fold last year. There’s so much stolen information out there, it’s getting cheaper.

Sullivan offers a different explanation:

Sullivan: How valuable is a low-limit MasterCard that’s been stolen from a bank now? Banks are getting better at cutting those cards off, so if the odds are you’re only going to be able to buy something for $20 or $30 and then the card goes bad on you, you’re not going to pay very much for it.

As little as 40 cents, to be exact.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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