The Lingering Effects Of Identity Theft
from the no-fun-for-anyone dept
Last year, we had a story about how many of the reports these data collections houses have on people have incorrect information -- often damaging reputations. However, Choicepoint and others also make it nearly impossible to make any kind of correction to that data -- which seems odd, as their entire business is based on that data. Having it be accurate would seem like a top priority. To highlight this, here's the story of one man who has spent nearly fifteen years fighting with many of these companies to clear his record. Someone had stolen his identity and used his name when arrested. While the police later figured out the true identity, they accidentally swapped the real name and the alias on the police report. Therefore, the identity theft victim is listed as a criminal, and that data gets spread far and wide. It's caused all sorts of problems in his life. Obviously, this is a single anecdotal case -- and an extreme one. However, it does highlight one of the very serious problems with these data companies, and the fact that their incorrect data gets spread to so many other companies so quickly, with absolutely no recourse. Of course, the whole situation is fairly circular. Since Choicepoint, for example, leaked their data to hackers, maybe this guy is now "protected" since no identity theft is going to steal his new, falsely criminal identity (though, we have seen at least one case where the identity someone stole was worse than his own real identity). Still, this story highlights just how weak some of the responses have been to these data leaks. Last month we showed Marriott's response to losing all sorts of critical info (including social security number, bank account and credit card info) was simply to pay for one year of credit monitoring. It seems that's becoming the standard. Another luxury resort has just admitted that they, too, have lost a ton of critical data on customers -- and are offering the same one year monitoring package. Is that really enough when the real victims seem to have trouble that lasts for many years?