When you receive a new credit or debit card in the mail, it usually arrives in need of activation. You have to call a number and verify some information: sure, no information that a determined identity thief wouldn’t already have, but at least it stops random passers-by from harvesting credit cards from mailboxes.
Occasionally, we’ve commented on the shoddy state of US credit card payment infrastructure. One of the noteworthy aspects of the fiasco of recent US retailer security breaches is that the media has more or less ignored the question of what could have been done to forestall these incidents, which in the case of Target involved as many as 70 million customers, and Neiman Marcus, under (but presumably not much under) 1 million.
Identity theft is big business. Now, we’re finding out exactly how big. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million of us have our identity stolen each year. It’s topped the list of consumer complaints filed with the agency for the past 12 years running, garnering about 15% of all complaints. And new research from ID Analytics shows that there are roughly 10,000 identity theft rings in the United States involved in this fast-growing illegal enterprise.