AST Digital Magazine July/August 2016 - Page 46

Volume 6 July-Aug 2016 Edition mation on where their customers shop and how they interact with advertising, while identity thieves and foreign operatives are happy to pay top-dollar for complete sets of individuals’ personal identifiable information. But how does this translate into a national security threat? In several different ways. The most obvious large-scale threat is that of domestic crime and terrorism while the perpetrators operate under complete yet falsified identities. This ability to operate under a stolen identity essentially derails any hope of investigators uncovering the activities of these instigators and preventing further crime. On a more day-to-day scale, identity theft weakens our economy and can even lead to complacency about personal security. There are costs associated with every victim report of identity theft, costs that are absorbed by retailers, financial institutions, and even the government; those economic losses affect everyone at some level. If the financial sector absorbs some of the dollar losses, we as consumers pay for it. When the IRS has to absorb the billions of dollars a year in fraud losses from filing fake tax returns, we all pay for it. When we calculate the missed opportunity cost, the lost jobs, the loss of secure housing, the loss of college opportunities and educational opportunities for young people – we all pay for it. Sadly, with every new report of another data breach or large-scale hacking event, the public perception about their own security gets chipped away a little more, leading to the idea that identity theft is just another unavoidable facet of everyday life. The most important part of the mission at this point may be in helping consumers understand that they do play a key role in protecting themselves and their data, and that together with law enforcement agencies, the financial and retail sectors, and the government, we can put a stop to the widespread theft of our data. About the author Eva Casey Velasquez is the President/CEO at the Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization which serves victims of identity theft. Ms. Velasquez previously served as the Vice President of Operations for the San Diego Better Business Bureau and spent 21 years at the San Diego District Attorney’s Office. 46