Debate Over What Constitutes Identity Theft Delaying Policy And Technology Solutions
|November 12, 2004|
For Financial Industry to Move Forward on Issue, TowerGroup Finds It Must Recognize That Consumers / Regulators
NEEDHAM, MA, — As concerns over identity theft in the US intensify, so do debates within the financial services community over exactly what type of crime is at the heart of the matter. At issue is the distinction between identity theft and identity fraud - and whether the identity theft threat actually matches the hype.
Formally defined, identity theft involves financial or other personal information stolen with the intent of establishing another person's identity as the thief's own. As rightly portrayed in the press, this act is extremely damaging to the victim and can mean months or years spent "cleaning up" records and re-establishing good credit. Identity fraud - exponentially more common - involves financial or other private information stolen, or totally invented, to make purchases or gain access to financial accounts.
Yet new research from TowerGroup asserts that when it comes to consumer perceptions, the valid distinctions between identity theft and fraud simply don't matter.
"The ongoing debate over what constitutes identity theft from a consumer or governmental perspective is delaying needed policy and technology solutions within many financial institutions," said Jerry Silva, senior analyst in the Delivery Channels research service at TowerGroup and co-author of the research. "It's critical that the industry recognize the likelihood that consumers and regulatory bodies will never see a clear distinction between identity theft and fraud. By coming to clarity on this point, institutions will be able to place ID theft in the context of enterprise risk management, and develop policies and actual solutions to attack the issue."
Other highlights of the research include: