Identity Theft is an ever increasing threat. It is also almost impossible to determine its extent. How do we battle Identity Theft Risks!
An everyday scenario: A man on a business trip stops at an Airport ATM and takes out $100.00 before catching his connecting flight. When he arrives at his hotel to check in not just one but all of his credit cards are declined. He has just become one of millions of victims of Identity Theft. One of the problems in combating this increasingly common crime is that there is a very good chance that this theft will never be reported. The business man will call the the credit card company who will realize that he and they have been a victim of “skimming” which is where thieves insert a device into an ATM designed to steal personal information. They will cancel the man's credit cards, courier replacement cards to him and write off the losses as the cost of doing business. They will want to keep the matter as confidential as possible both to protect the man's interest and to protect their own reputation. Everyone knows the importance of doing the basic things to protect against Identity Theft. Cover your hands when entering PIN numbers. Change your passwords frequently and don't use obvious ones. Don't write your passwords down where they can be discovered. Use different passwords for different applications etc. But further steps can be taken too. Devising a comprehensive empirically accurate means of measuring the extent of Identity Theft so that countermeasures can be developed is as important for individuals as it is for corporations. In order to do that, it is necessary to measure the extent of Identity Theft Risks.Every individual can develop and “Identity Theft Risk Scorecard.” This is a simple risk assessment exercise. Individuals can do a comprehensive inventory of their vulnerabilities. Know how many credit cards you have and what the limits are on them. Check bank statements regularly, not just at the end of the month but also online for unidentified charges. Protect passwords and change them regularly. Keep unused cards in a safe location. Treat ATM cards the same way as credit cards.An individual should also regularly check on his/her credit rating with Equifax or a similar service. Look for unusual activity and address it immediately. Keep Social Security Numbers, Driver's License numbers, Passport numbers and other major identifiers secure and limit dissemination to only necessary parties. Be certain to obtain copies of credit card receipts from restaurants, hotels, gas stations and other retailers and shred any that have a full credit card number on them.By following these and other basic protective practices the individual is actually developing a personal Identity Theft Metrics, a comprehensive accounting of how and where one's Identity information is disseminated. As with corporations this Metrics will have built in KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Individuals, like corporations, have the ability to monitor, protect against and put in place proactive countermeasures against Identity Theft.