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Are more federal laws the answer to ID theft?

With a growing number of states enacting laws to deal with identity theft, a White House task force has come out with a plan to protect people at the federal level.

In a press release issued Monday on the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras announced the completion of the President’s Identity Theft Task Force strategic plan. The goal, according to the statement, is “to improve the effectiveness of criminal prosecutions of identity theft; enhance data protection for sensitive consumer information maintained by the public sector, private sector, and consumers; provide more comprehensive and effective guidance for consumers and the business community; and improve recovery and assistance for consumers.”

Majoras said, “Identity theft is a blight on America’s privacy and security landscape. Identity thieves steal consumers’ time, money, and security, just as sure as they steal their identifying information, and they cost businesses enormous sums.”

The task force recommends:

— Reducing the unnecessary use of Social Security numbers by federal agencies.

— Establishing national standards that require private organizations to safeguard the personal data they compile and provide notice to consumers when a breach occurs.

— Implementing a “broad, sustained awareness campaign” by federal agencies to educate consumers, the private sector and the public on methods to deter, detect and defend against identity theft.

— Creating a national identity theft law enforcement center that helps law enforcement agencies coordinate efforts to investigate and prosecute identity thieves more effectively.

The task force recommends several pieces of legislation to make these things happen. While there are already several laws at the state and federal levels to hunt down and prosecute identity thieves, the task force believes sharper teeth need to be added to what’s already on the books.

“Although much has been done to combat identity theft, the specific recommendations outlined in the strategic plan — from broad policy changes to small steps — are necessary to wage a more effective fight against identity theft and reduce its incidence and damage,” the task force said in its press release.

Do you think more federal legislation is the answer to the problem? Let us know what you think in our comments section.

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Identity fraud is a crime that costs all of us. As measures have been increased in recent years to mitigate identity fraud, so too has the level of sophistication of the fraudulent acts. Persons that were dedicated to committing fraud had the upper hand for some time, but technology is now catching up to these predators. The Case to Utilize Fingerprint Biometrics: Fingerprint biometrics are a leading digital technology that can be utilized in digital identity authentication. Those in a point of service setting that use fingerprint biometrics do so by scanning a customer's ID through a system and instructing the customer to use a keypad to match fingerprints with a stored fingerprint identity. Fingerprint biometrics can help increase the chances that the person in front of you presenting an ID is that ID's true identity. The result is an ability to capture and link fingerprints to a single ID record, which will increase fraud prevention and help ensure fraudsters do not attempt to use multiple identities. The Case to Implement Biometric Verification: Those in a point of service setting pay for fraud twice, once stemming from the initial act of fraud and a second time as a result of cost of goods, services and even insurance rates increases. Biometric verification can help resolve the problem of ID fraud and provide the point of service person that the customer presented is the actual person represented on the ID. The benefit of a biometric verification is that legitimate multiple IDs can be linked to a single person through one unique biometric fingerprint record. The additional benefit is that this unique biometric fingerprint cannot be utilized in multiple fraudulent IDs. Security Elements Needed for Acceptance of Fingerprint Biometrics: A sound fingerprint authentication system needs to have inherent protection against a number of types of common attacks and other compromised situations: The system should enforce trusted attended enrollment to establish a chain of trust as to whose fingers were enrolled for any given UserID. This cannot be accomplished by self-enrollment. The system should not allow any given fingerprint to be authenticated to identify more than a single User. The system should have a secure exception mode to support emergency access when no working device is available. The system should support a duress function for a limited subset of the User base. The system should adequately secure the biometric identifiers both at rest and in transit to prevent replay, man-in-the-middle and denial-of-service attacks. The system should be adaptable to a variety of authentication interfaces. The system should support interoperability of devices from multiple manufacturers. The system should allow for actual elimination of passwords, not just releasing them to an existing password-authentication mechanism. Technologies and products do exist which enable secure biometric systems to be implemented that meet these criteria to significantly reduce identity fraud potential.