FTC Hosting Fraud Prevention Forums: Identity Theft Demographics

The FTC announced today:

"FTC, Partners Will Hold Hispanic Fraud Prevention Forum in New York City

Members of Hispanic Communities Invited to Discuss Consumer Fraud Issues

The Federal Trade Commission, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Manhattan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are hosting a day-long Hispanic Fraud Prevention Forum in New York City. The Forum, which will be held September 27, 2006, from 8:30 A.M. until 3:30 P.M. at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004, is open to Hispanic community leaders, representatives from community organizations, and local, state, and federal law enforcement and consumer protection agencies that work with Hispanic consumers. The goals are to discuss consumer fraud in Hispanic communities in the New York area and develop law enforcement and consumer education strategies to address it."

Go to the link to find out more.

This struck me as quite interesting.  I wonder what studies or statistics they have about all the demographic groups?

Searching through their site I found a 283 page report, "Fraud and Identity Theft Complaints Received by the Federal Trade Commission from Consumers Age 50 and Over" from May 2005, but no other reports about a specific demographic.

Okay, the mathematician in me is now thirsty for some demographic identity theft information…

I found the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Online identity theft study from January 2006.  "One Surprising Finding: the Core Demographic – 25 to 34 – Has the Highest Rate of Identity Fraud Rather Than Seniors"  Interesting…

Javelin Strategy & Research did the BBB Online study.  They also did another one in August 2006 that costs $950 (nope!  I’m not shelling out that kind of dough just to pique my curiosity).  Their overview provided an interesting statement: "Misunderstanding data breaches and their effect on identity fraud may lead to incorrect guidance to consumers, mistakes regarding protective measures companies employ, and overly burdensome legislation. Armed with facts, industry leaders must ensure that the data breach ‚Äúcure‚Äù is not worse than the affliction. This report is the first ever to show the actual impact that data breaches have on known-cause cases of identity fraud." 

First ever to show how data breashes impact identity fraud???

Hmm…definitely good bait to get some sales…I take these types of statements with several grains of salt without knowing what kind of meat they have to support their gravy statements… 

It all comes down to implementing the correct controls and safeguards around personally identifiable information (PII) to reduce risks to a reasonable and acceptable level to help prevent the compromise of PII to begin with. 

It would be very interesting to see the mistakes they found companies make; there are so many to choose from!  And yes, of course some legislation can be overly burdensome, and I agree that many laws should have been written better.  But, without legislation I wonder how many companies would decide that, since they aren’t legally required to protect PII that they won’t cut into their revenues by implementing controls at all…or just implementing the minimum they think they can get away with?  Data protection laws and information security intiatives are both double edged swords that often clink in battle within many organizations.

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