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Identity Theft Victims Are Protected With a Bill of Rights

The problem of identity theft continues to grow.  The victims face an incredible amount of resistance when restoring their good name. Most spend an overwhelming amount of time fighting credit reporting companies, creditors and even law enforcement to clear their names.

Relief may be in sight.

A consortium of a number of companies in the identity theft prevention space have banded together to create a “Bill of Rights” for victims of identity theft. A Bill of Rights would provide victims of identity theft the needed leverage in response to a breach of their information that leads to numerous forms of identity theft. The consortium has some work to do to get the attention of legislators before it becomes law. This is certainly a noble effort that if passed will provide significant relief to victims.

I speak to victims on a weekly basis and the stresses of being victimized takes its toll. When a thief is functioning in society as you, fraudulently, irresponsibly and of course illegally, they tarnish every aspect of your life. There is an overwhelming sense of helplessness for many victims due to the notion that they are guilty until proven innocent. While this will in essence “take an act of congress” to become law, a good faith implementation of the bill by industry and government would certainly provide needed relief to those affected.

The Santa Fe Group, a financial services consulting firm, and The Santa Fe Group Vendor Council, a consortium of leading service providers to the financial services industry, today released the first comprehensive Bill of Rights for victims of identity theft. The Bill of Rights calls for consistent processes for handling identity crime incidents in addition to amendments to privacy legislation and regulation so victims can more easily access and correct their personal information records.

The five basic rights address the need for legislation that enables individual victims of identity theft to access and correct personally identifiable information (PII) records. The Bill of Rights white paper, titled Victims’ Rights: Fighting Identity Crime on the Front Lines, is now available.

The Identity Crime Victims Bill of Rights advocates improved protection and support for victims and includes:
• Assessment of the nature and extent of the crime that removes the procedural “Catch-22s” when validating identity
• Full restoration of victims’ identities to pre-theft status, including the ability to expunge records
• Freedom from harassment from collection agencies, law enforcement and others
• Prosecution of offenders and accountability for businesses that fail to reasonably secure personal information
• Restitution that includes repayment for financial losses and expenses

The white paper effort was led by the Identity Management Working Group of The Santa Fe Group Vendor Council chaired by Rick Kam, President of ID Experts

“Despite new additions to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACT), such as free credit reports and the ability to place fraud alerts after identity theft, victims are still subject to inconsistent and unfair treatment from state and federal agencies, law enforcement and businesses,” said Rick Kam, President of Portland-based ID Experts, a leader in data breach prevention and remediation. “We created the Bill of Rights to empower victims by granting them the same rights as victims of other crimes.”

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, 9.9 million Americans were victimized by identity crimes in 2008, an increase of 22% from 2007, with annual costs to consumers and businesses of more than $49 billion. In their journey to recover their identities, victims face a disjointed maze of privacy laws and information sources. Law enforcement processes are not always in place, and organizations often won’t share evidence with victims. As a result, a victim’s life can be disrupted for years.

“Victim empowerment is key to thwarting identity crime,” said Catherine A. Allen, Chairman and CEO of The Santa Fe Group. “With the Identity Crime Victims Bill of Rights, we’ve launched a national call to action, laying the groundwork for meaningful and much-needed legislation while building awareness of the issue in the media and among consumers and businesses. Our intent is that victims of all types of identity crime be provided with the same rights afforded to them via the FACT Act for resolving credit issues.”

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert Speaker discusses identity theft victims Here and Here



Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 26 February, 2009, 14:45Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

My view is that we could significantly reduce identity fraud if the CRAs, and other such organisations, had to refer to each individual (and company, if necessary) before they provided any information to a requesting person or organisation.

If the data they held on me was deemed to be mine and not theirs, they'd have to ask me to agree to let them respond to any data request (say for a credit reference) before giving it out.  It wouldn't be enough that a clause was included on an application form signed by a borrower - the confirmation would have to be via a separate channel.  I should also be able to view my records, free of charge, at any time, and we should have a dispute process, similar to a credit card transaction dispute process, whereby I can dispute anything on my record, which would require the CRA to investigate and convince me that the data item should stand, by getting proof from the institution that placed the mark on the record in the first instance.

If these conditions were brought in, yes it would cause disruption to e.g. credit application processes, etc., but it would make it much more difficult for fraudsters to hijack my ID via these organisations.

Similar considerations should be imposed in any other relevant areas, where my ID is stored and relied upon. 

My ID should be mine, not anyone else's.

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