Saturday, July 14, 2007

Good Housekeeping has major story


The August 2007 issue of Good Housekeeping, on p 140, offers a comprehensive article by Amy Engeler, “The ID Theft You Haven’t Hard Of”. She describes schemes by which people outsmart the banking and credit reporting system to get jobs, get hospital treatment, and even buy homes. Besides people with substance issues (previous post), many of the perpetrators are illegal immigrants (was with the Lifetime movie “The Michelle Brown Story”). The article discusses systems problems, particularly within the credit reporting industry, by which people are identified from a variety of search keys, including social security number, but also various combinations. Credit reporting companies also do automatic file update from member transactions (after partial matches, that have the potential of identifying the wrong consumers) and that increases the risk of compromise and the difficulty in correcting a consumer’s record after a major incident. Certain inconsistencies and bureaucracy in social security processing complicate problems (can lead to fraudulent claims). In health insurance, new HIPAA regulations can make it more difficult for an improperly billed consumer (for someone else’s treatment) to find and correct incorrect bills.

It seems unacceptable that ordinary consumers should be expected to shred ordinary junk mail, or cannot trust financial institutions and credit reporting vendors and even law enforcement to practice the proper due diligence in processing information.

In software engineering, a class is a collection of objects with certain properties and characteristics. In instance is an occurrence of a specific object (a person). It’s always important to identify an instance precisely. In our world, social security number alone is no longer adequate to identify a consumer properly when processing

Good Housekeeping
is a well-known "women's magazine", dating back to WWII times, well established before Betty Friedan. It's view is that mothers and fathers are concerned about the practical issues or protecting their families, not with the theoretical discussions on personal or corporate responsibility and ethics.

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