Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Congress urged to boost identity theft safeguards

Filed under
Security

It takes only a few seconds for your financial identity to be stolen, but months to get it back and clean up the credit mess. Aware of consumers' frustration and fear, the government wants Congress to consider more protections.

Lawmakers should look at strengthening laws that govern the way companies store and use sensitive consumer data, the Federal Trade Commission recommended at a Senate hearing Thursday.

The agency's chairwoman, Deborah Platt Majoras, also endorsed the idea of a law requiring companies to tell consumers about a security breach when there is significant risk of identity theft.

California has a law that requires such notification; many other states are considering following suit.

Nearly 10 million people fall victim to identity theft annually, costing consumers $5 billion in out-of-pocket losses and businesses $48 billion, according to the FTC.

The nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center estimates the average victim spends 600 hours trying to clear up credit problems. The center, based in San Diego, helps people recover from the crime.

Identity theft has become even more alarming for consumers in recent months with disclosures of data losses or possible breaches at CitiFinancial, Time Warner Inc., Wachovia Corp. and Ameritrade Holding Corp.

At the hearing, Majoras announced a settlement with BJ's Wholesale Club in a case the FTC said led to the theft of credit and debit card data involving thousands of customers. The data was used, the agency said, to make millions of dollars in illegal purchases.

BJ's, based in Natick, Mass., will not have to pay a fine. The company agreed to submit to outside security audits for 20 years and tighten protection of customer information.

``This information is like gold. It's as valuable as money these days and it ought to be treated that way,'' said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., before the hearing by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Schumer and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., have introduced an identity theft bill that would require notification and higher security standards for personal data, such as encryption. Schumer also said the bill would impose fines on companies of up to $1,000 per customer violated.

Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, supports tougher security standards for companies as well as federal and state notification laws.

``What we're hearing from consumers really is a fear that even if they're doing everything right, they can still become a victim,'' said Susanna Montezemolo, a policy analyst with the group.
Experts say banks and other companies can do more.

``Without any question, some of the incidents that have occurred underscore the need for encryption, particularly when you're transmitting information electronically or tapes by delivery,'' said Rick Fischer, who has spent more than 30 years advising banks and other financial institutions on data security and privacy issues.

Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Tizen News

Mozilla Firefox Quantum

  • Can the new Firefox Quantum regain its web browser market share?
    When Firefox was introduced in 2004, it was designed to be a lean and optimized web browser, based on the bloated code from the Mozilla Suite. Between 2004 and 2009, many considered Firefox to be the best web browser, since it was faster, more secure, offered tabbed browsing and was more customizable through extensions than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. When Chrome was introduced in 2008, it took many of Firefox’s best ideas and improved on them. Since 2010, Chrome has eaten away at Firefox’s market share, relegating Firefox to a tiny niche of free software enthusiasts and tinkerers who like the customization of its XUL extensions. According to StatCounter, Firefox’s market share of web browsers has fallen from 31.8% in December 2009 to just 6.1% today. Firefox can take comfort in the fact that it is now virtually tied with its former arch-nemesis, Internet Explorer and its variants. All of Microsoft’s browsers only account for 6.2% of current web browsing according to StatCounter. Microsoft has largely been replaced by Google, whose web browsers now controls 56.5% of the market. Even worse, is the fact that the WebKit engine used by Google now represents over 83% of web browsing, so web sites are increasingly focusing on compatibility with just one web engine. While Google and Apple are more supportive of W3C and open standards than Microsoft was in the late 90s, the web is increasingly being monopolized by one web engine and two companies, whose business models are not always based on the best interests of users or their rights.
  • Firefox Nightly Adds CSD Option
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Firefox 57 is awesome — so awesome that I’m finally using it as my default browser again. But there is one thing it the Linux version of Firefox sorely needs: client-side decoration.

First Renesas based Raspberry Pi clone runs Linux

iWave’s “iW-RainboW-G23S” SBC runs Linux on a Renesas RZ/G1C, and offers -20 to 85°C support and expansion headers including a RPi-compatible 40-pin link. iWave’s iW-RainboW-G23S is the first board we’ve seen to tap the Renesas RZ/G1C SoC, which debuted earlier this year. It’s also the first Renesas based SBC we’ve seen that features the increasingly ubiquitous Raspberry Pi 85 x 56mm footprint, layout, and RPi-compatible 40-pin expansion connector. The board is also notable for providing -20 to 85°C temperature support. Read more Also: GameShell Is An Open Source And Linux-powered Retro Game Console That You’ll Love

Games: SuperTuxKart, Tannenberg, Observer