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02/21/2005 Archived Entry: "The worst identity thieves aren't the ones who take your wallet"

THE IMPACT OF A SINGLE THEFT OF "PAPERS." Neil Alexander writes chillingly about the impact of a single, up-close-and-personal theft of the items we carry around with us. (And gives yet another familiar example of "I'm from the government; I'm here to help you.")

It seems Neil and his wife are still lucky, four years after the fact. The petty thief who grabbed his wife's purse hasn't yet used their "papers" to destroy their credit and their reputations.

Then there are those criminal gangs of identity thieves. Those ID racketeers. Those conspirators in the pillaging of our identity. Those villains who make purse-snatchers look like towers of civic virtue: ChoicePoint and its ilk. The data warehousers, aggregators, and sellers.

You want to know what they've ripped from you? It goes way beyond your bank account or your auto registration. And they're selling it all. Heck, selling you is the only reason ChoicePoint and its comrades in crime exist.

And Our Glorious Leaders can do nothing but lock the barn door after the horse, all its tack, and the last grain of feed have been stolen. (Never fear, however. Lest you lose all faith in the protection of the State, I can assure you that Congress will eventually show its true worth by spewing forth some incomprehensible, draconian, 2,000-page piece of legislation, establishing a Department of Privacy, setting up an identity czar, and authorizing ninja raids ... against everyone but ChoicePoint and company, who will go on plying their criminal trade exactly as usual, due to large campaign contributions leading to a planet-sized loophole hidden in Clause C, Subclause 1, Paragraph a-32 on Page 1759 of the Trust, Honor, Integrity, Empowerment, and Financial Protection Act of 2006, which no one who voted for it will have actually bothered to read.)

Like those same Glorious Leaders, ChoicePoint hides its own secrets while demanding that we have none.

Still, even in the hell these monsters are preparing for us, there will still be moments of levity and laughter. As ChoicePoint's CEO Derek Smith remained among the missing in the wake of revelations that his company sold us out to identity thieves, privacy maven Richard M. Smith found this choice ChoicePoint quote in a 2002 article:

"ChoicePoint's core competency is verifying and authenticating individuals and their credentials." -- ChoicePoint Chairman and CEO Derek V. Smith

Uh huh.

I've known some con artists in my life and have one outstanding observation about them: con artists -- who devoutly cling to the something-for-nothing mentality, who trade in getting their dirty hands on the unearned -- tend to fall for scams even more easily than some of their marks do. They recognize their own particular scam techniques if someone tries to pull them. But present them with any other chance at unearned dough, and they often tumble for it like any greedy mark.

Thus it appears that after conning us out of the data that determines our ability to function -- or be forbidden to function -- in modern life, ChoicePoint fell for the ploys of a Nigerian scammer.

Posted by Claire @ 07:26 AM CST

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