Challenges ahead for business based on events of 2007, says the identity theft assistance center
Law enforcement, business and consumers made progress in addressing identity theft in 2007 although it remains a persistent and increasingly complex crime, according to the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC).
ITAC President Anne Wallace, commented: “The year 2007 was significant because we saw growing cooperation between the public and private sectors, which is the only way that we, as a society, can fight identity theft.’
Wallace cited recommendations by the White House Task Force on Identity Theft; the growth of state and regional task forces devoted to identity theft; and an initiative by Bank of America and the International Association of Police Chiefs to provide new tools for local law enforcement.
ITAC reviewed major events related to identity theft in 2007 and what it might mean for the year ahead:
• Criminals will continue to exploit new technologies to commit identity theft. Gregory Kopiloff, 35, was the first person indicted for using a peer-to-peer file sharing network, including LimeWire, to commit identity theft. Kopiloff allegedly used the software to steal tax returns, credit reports and bank statements, and then used that data to illegally purchase thousands of dollars’ worth of products.
“The year 2007 was significant because we saw growing cooperation between the public and private sectors, which is the only way that we, as a society, can fight identity theft.
ITAC President Anne Wallace
• Data security breaches will grow in importance as a business issue. Fall out from the TJX Co.s data breach, in which 45.6 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen from one of the company’s systems, continued throughout 2007—a stark reminder of how information security can impact a company’s bottom line. According to Ernst & Young's 10th annual Global Information Security Survey, 64 percent of the senior executives they surveyed said legal compliance was the top driver for security, followed by 58 percent who identified privacy and data protection as the No. 2 driver for security.
• The protection of personal information is an increasingly challenging political issue. United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized to the nation following the lost of two CDs containing the personal and financial details of 25 million people. The incident was reminiscent of the data breach at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which exposed the personal information of 25 million and resulted in the call for public policy changes about how the government handles tax payer data.
• Identity thieves will continue to defy profiles. A twenty-something Philadelphia couple was arrested for stealing the identities of neighbors whose apartments they broke into. The Drexel University woman and her boyfriend, dubbed the “Bonnie and Clyde” of identity theft, used the proceeds to finance trips to Europe and Hawaii.
• Big busts and criminal penalties. An investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the U.S. Secret Service lead to one of the year’s biggest identity theft busts: 17 individuals and one business were indicted on charges of running a massive identity-theft and money-laundering operation that raked in more than $35 million over a four-year period. The individuals face up to 25 years each in prison. As law enforcement’s capacity to investigate identity crime grows, so will the incidents of arrest and successful prosecutions.