Consumer Affairs wrote an interesting article about all the recently released identity theft surveys.

Martin H. Bosworth reports:

The financial services industry, hoping to befuddle the new Congress, has been busily laying down a smokescreen claiming that identity theft is on the wane.

But the Federal Trade Commission’s latest compilation of consumer complaints and a survey by the National Crime Prevention Council should do much to clear the air.

Martin’s article, here.

Who should we believe, the government, or the financial services industry?

The civil servants behind the government surveys have no financial interest in all of this. On the other hand, the financial services industry have a huge financial interest. At least as long as they can still profit by writing all the losses off.

It’s going to cost them some of their (hefty) profit margins to properly protect all the information they’ve been data-mining on all of us for decades. It also might force them to be more responsible when selling their products.

Interestingly enough, privacy and consumer advocates all seem to agree with the government.

Of course in any statistical analysis, there are a lot of unknowns. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse regularly updates their statistics about how many people’s personal information has been compromised in February, 2005.

They admit that their analysis might not be 100 percent accurate when they state:

The running total we maintain at the end of the Chronology represents the approximate number of *records* that have been compromised due to security breaches, not necessarily the number of *individuals* affected. Some individuals may be the victims of more than one breach, which would affect the totals. In reality, the number given below is much larger. For many of the breaches listed, the number of records is unknown.

It’s also come to light recently that there is a flourishing market on the Internet, selling personal and financial information (wholesale), in underground chat-rooms.

This might support some of the data the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has been compiling.

Of course, the people involved in this activity are unlikely to comment, or provide statistics of their own. I don’t think it would be in their best interest to do so.

Doing so, might hurt their money flow, or cause them to lose their freedom.

The problem is that too many people have financial interests in what some of these surveys are selling to the public.

I think the Latin phrase, caveat lector (reader beware) certainly applies in this instance. I have a hard time believing what I read in some of this statistical analysis.

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