Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Next Wave of Attackers...

OK, so we're now pretty clear that ID cards wont stop terrorism. They also wont help against immigration or benefit fraud, so the next argument for ID cards - Identity Theft.

So basically, we should now have ID cards to stop the world's new greatest terror, having your identity stolen by some unscrupulous fraudster. You can't really move at the minute for an article about 'losing you identity' or being ripped of by some on-line phising scam. Considering how much of a big thing is being made of all this, especially as the amount lost through fraud each year is less than the proposed cost of ID cards, maybe this is in fact a good argument for introducing a compulsory ID scheme?

Er, no. For a start, much of identity fraud is actually pretty low-level scams which prey on the foolish people that don't follow simple advice like ignoring emails 'from your bank' asking for personal details. These scams, quite frankly, are about as sophisticated as a brick; not exactly the high-tech crime that the government are trying to scare people about.

What's more, 'ID theft' covers a wide range of offences, one of which, as an example, is credit card theft; not exactly a new crime emerging from the digital world. In fact, I'm quite sure I could make a new crime sound pretty serious if I could lump a load of old crimes under a new banner and show how much it costs every year. Again, credit card theft seems about as likely to be caused by a good old-fashioned mugging than any mysterious, unpreventable high tech scam.

It's also bad timing on behalf of the government, because this article talking about containing ID theft only came out yesterday, suggesting that most people hit by identity fraud don't actually lose any money, and that only 9% of all ID theft was internet related.

So really, it all seems a bit grasping for some bloke from the Home Office to be suggesting ID cards as the panacea to our ID theft problems. The only point he seems to have is that the costs of Id theft are greater, but even this was just rebuked by the BBC Television News, which pointed out that 50% of ID theft hits companies rather than individuals. so unless they're going to introduce cards for Mr M.Icrosoft and Mrs B.B.Corporation, they might not get the results they were looking for...


MatGB said...

Will you, please stop reading my mind?

*goes off to think about a new topic to write something about*

Well said sir, well said!

chris said...

You missed a point that the NIR will be an absolute magnet for anyone wanting to steal personal data. Like the database of Jobcentre workers that got raided last december for personal data that where then used in fraud. So if it is not secured properly, and it won't be, it is going to make identity fraud more likely not less.

wonkotsane said...

I think most Credit Card fraud in future will be as a result of the fact that since chip & pin cards came in, the cashiers never check the name on the card any more. How easy would it be for a fraudster to watch over someone's shoulder, get their PIN, pick their pocket and use the card? They wouldn't even have to be the same sex. I bet a white Englishman could get away with using an Asian woman's credit card for a month without getting caught.

Anonymous said...

I still go "Arrrgh arrrgh! I hate it!" each time I hear credit card fraud called "identity theft". It's credit card fraud.

Yes, they're signing/whatevering as you, but it's really just stealing.

And the description of it as identity theft bumps up the number of cases they claim ID cards will help with, depsite the fact they can't help with that.

Completely seperately, I get mildly peeved about the fact that ID cards & the NIR will incerase identity theft.

Biodun said...

No posts on the Mohammed Cartoons? You guys are slacking!

MatGB said...

Biodun; it's written, but blog-spot doesn't wseem to want to publish it :-(