Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A new NCOA-based system should allow consumers to keep unlisted information from "public" data brokers


I want to remind the visitor that the September 25, 2006 posting on this blog gives my “project proposal” on how a system to protect consumer identity security would work. In short, it would be centered on a “preferred contact address” equivalent to the NCOA (National Change of Address) as managed by the United States Postal Service (and various contractors). In various circumstances, financial and lending institutions would be required to check this address as part of “due diligence” to prevent parties from copying existing persons and creating duplicate identities of these individuals for the purposes of fraud.

One requirement for such a (“new”) system (on a go-forward basis) ought to be that a consumer has the right to prevent this “preferred address” (or any preferred contact point, email, or cell phone) from being sold to data brokers for reverse lookup of essentially “unlisted” information (including family, real estate and income level information). Many companies (I won’t list them here) make this information available for very small purchase price per item to the public. The capability of misuse of such information (which is often incorrect anyway) has been a plot point in more than one soap opera recently—and that’s just “make believe”. These lookups are part of the “deeper Internet” (beyond normal search engines) that some reputation defense companies say that they can check for clients, and say that employers could check (and they indeed could). My own Congressman (a “moderate” Democrat) says that the practice of “for sale” data brokering operates barely within the parameters of what is “legally permissible” and presents troubling potential security (maybe even national security) issues.

Even so, I remember back in the 1980s, that – even in an older mainframe and large-business-driven world -- “promos” (identification information sold to target marketers) was a larger source of revenue for Chilton, a credit reporting company, than were legitimate credit reports themselves. I noticed this then because I maintained their billing systems.

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