Hands up anyone who hasn't had their identity stolen

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CNN reports that UPS has lost backup tapes containing the identities 3.9 million customers [*].
"We deeply regret this incident, which occurred in spite of the enhanced security procedures we require of our couriers," Kevin Kessinger, executive vice president of Citigroup (Research), said in a statement. "Beginning in July, this data will be sent electronically in encrypted form," said Kessinger, who heads the company's consumer finance business in North America.

In its letter, New York-based Citigroup told the people affected there was "little risk of your account being compromised because you have already received your loan."

"No additional credit may be obtained from CitiFinancial without your prior approval, either by initiating a new application or by providing positive proof of identification," the nation's No. 1 financial services company said in the letter

It wouldn't be crazy to ask why the records weren't encrypted in the first place.

That said, it sounds like Citi has the right idea--make it harder to use this kind of personal data to execute financial transactions. As far as I can tell, the battle to keep this data secure is pretty much lost; it's time to focus on damage control.

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I often wonder if there will be an event that will cause serious calamity to our financial institutions with regard to identity theft... an event that will make them put into place real protections.

So, Citi looses data. Citi adds local measures that will drive the costs to other banks, while not changing the portion that allocates to consumers. While this is great risk management for Citi, it helps me not one whit. What would help would be (1) gathering less data about me, (2) trafficing it less, and (3) protecting it better.

We need legislative reform.

In anticipation of the event Grumpy refers to, I am going to trademark the expression "Identity Pearl Harbor". :^)

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