Feds ID Theft Guidelines Just for Show
The new federal identity theft proposal accomplishes virtually nothing, other than to give a photo-op for officials to say "identity theft" and frown.When U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales held a news conference on Monday to discuss the new identity theft guidelines, he seemed to have two clear goals. First, to be asked questions that have nothing to do with fired U.S. Attorneys. (He looked as though he was fighting the urge to paraphrase Henny Youngman. "Take my identity....please!") But the more important goal was to be photographed looking concerned about this terrible identity theft situation. "Just awful. Really bad. Please write down the concerned look on my face." Its a shame that the report doesnt accomplish much. It encouraged fewer uses of Social Security Numbers for non-Social Security purposes. Two problems with that. That has already been U.S. government policy for many years. The second problem is that the numbers are very difficult to change once theyre issued, and they are being widely used by banks, businesses, schools and tons of other entities outside the U.S. government.
Unlike a credit card that can be easily reissued when its number get stolen, SS Numbers are more or less permanent. Clamping down on SS usage after the vast majority of Americans have had their numbers used extensively for a huge list of forms wont do much good. Fear not. Theres no indication the government is serious about cracking down.