Can Identity Theft Epidemic Be Stopped?

The F.B.I. says that many identity thefts and cyberschemes that play out in the United States are hatched in Russia, Romania and West Africa. In a report prepared by its consumer protection bureau, the F.T.C. said 27.3 million Americans had their identiti

A leading bank regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, warned in June that increased corporate outsourcing of call-center tasks and other jobs overseas had heightened the risk of identity theft. The crimes ranged from the theft of a credit card number to more elaborate identity thefts used to secure loans. During those 12 months, the report said, businesses and financial institutions suffered about $48 billion in losses because of identity theft, and victimized consumers paid more than $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses to regain their financial identities.

Experts say identity theft has evolved from isolated examples to ever broader and more financially damaging cases that involve the speedy theft and aggregation of hundreds or even thousands of identities. Many of the most vicious cases, say analysts, involve corporate insiders who hijack sensitive personal information from corporate databases in order to begin picking peoples pockets.

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