It is truly amazing that we now have a crime that is referred to as “identity theft.” Impersonation is a very old scam, but the ridiculous way we now “identify” people had led to this current problem. I am among those included in the latest breach of data from Anthem (Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Georgia).
It is time to change the way we do business.
We should just publish every American’s Social Security Number and return to the original purpose of that system, to track or contribution to the pool so as to determine our retirement benefit. Stop using it for other purposes.
Our identity can be confirmed online by well-established systems such as OpenID or Google’s third-party identification system. These systems are quite secure when common sense rules are followed (unfortunately uncommon).
Most modern cell phones now have NFC that gives us a way to “identify” ourselves in person, so these systems would be even more useful.
The workings of these systems are a bit complex internally, but very simple to learn to use by the end user. You will need to set up an account with a third party trusted by you and the party to which you will be identifying yourself to, but this is no worse than trusting your bank with your paycheck (okay, maybe a bad example). At least with this system, any damage can be tracked and stopped almost immediately, whereas once your SSN is out there, it is out there forever.
How long will we keep using a simple 20th century number system that allows our “identity” to be “stolen”???