• United States



by Paul Kerstein

New Technology May Increase ID Theft

Sep 06, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

New technology could increase rather than solve the problem of identity theft and fraud, a British criminologist warned today.

Identity cards and chip and pin technology for credit cards will forcefraudsters to be more creative and are unlikely to alleviate theproblem.

Emily Finch, of the University of East Anglia in England, saiddependence on technology is leading to a breakdown in individualvigilance, which experts believe is one of the best ways to preventfraud and identity theft.

“There is a worrying assumption that advances in technology willprovide the solution to identity theft whereas it is possible that theymay actually aggravate the problem,” she told the British Associationscience conference. “Fraudsters adapt their behavior to suit thecircumstances.”

Finch, who interviewed criminals about why and how they commit crimesand the impact new technology is likely to have on them, foundfraudsters were tenacious and would change their methods to elude newsecurity measures.

“Studying the way that individuals disclose sensitive information wouldbe far more valuable in preventing identity fraud than the evolution oftechnologically advanced but ultimately fallible measures to preventmisuse of personal information after it has been obtained,” she said.

Data from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft SurveyReport released two years ago showed that 4.6% of 4,000 randomlyselected people questioned in a poll had been the victim of some formof identity theft in the past year.

Finch said fraud and identify theft was not always done for financialreasons. Sometimes people wanted to start again with a new identity.

Identity cards could potentially increase fraudulent behavior, shewarned. In June, the British government introduced legislation fornational identity cards, saying they would counter terrorism, crime andillegal immigration. But critics say the scheme is expensive,unnecessary and intrusive.

“What fraudsters know about is human nature,” said Finch. “And theyadapt to things like the Internet which provides an absolutelyfantastic base to access personal information.”

She also has doubts about chip and pin technology which allowsconsumers to punch in a personal number rather than use a signature forcredit and debit card purchases.

Instead of watching an individual punch in the code and stealing thecard, criminals are snatching credit card application forms and gettingnew cards and numbers, she added.

By Patricia Reaney – Reuters