As we all know, tons of people are having their identities stolen — the most recent story involving over 600,000 customers with Wachovia and Bank Of America. The basic concept is that certain information that identifies the individual in question is obtained and then used to open credit cards or other types of accounts that can be used to make purchases. Of coure, the victim then owes the money for those items and the trouble ensues.
Well, I have a silly idea — how about if we make it harder to open credit accounts so that the data being stolen cannot be used to steal as much?
In other words, if today most credit card companies let you start an account and begin spending by supplying x, y, and z — and those three things are being readily stolen — how about adding some additional layers to the mix? I’m not sure what additional data or procedures can be required, but I’m sure the system can have some layers added so that a thief can’t simply supply a few tokens that represent an individual and then proceed to charge items at will. There has to be some sort of process that can be executed that will add to the effort cost of theft — something that isn’t simply more data that can be stolen.
If something like this were to be adopted for any significant number of major organizations, then the data being stolen couldn’t be used for nearly as much. Of course, it’ll add to the hassle of opening accounts and such, but given what can potentially be gained I think many will be willing to accept the inconvenience. I think it’ll be a matter of which organizations will want to take a hit in new customer additions due to the added overhead in order to reap the benefits of less identity theft.