Thursday, March 17, 2005
IDTheftSecurity.com's Founder, Robert Siciliano, Commenting On Congressional Hearings, Warns That Terrorism Could Stem From The Identity Theft Crisis
Last month a major, yearlong database breach at ChoicePoint became news. Since then, legislators have decried what many industry watchers have described as data mining firms' lax security. Reps. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and others have led various efforts on Capitol Hill to investigate the problem of identity theft, and hearings began late last week.
"To avoid liability, information brokers capitalize on a litigious society's need to know," said Robert Siciliano, a nationally televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert. "In this respect, data aggregators are necessary, yet the manner in which they operate is no different than a boiler room operation without oversight."
On Feb. 24, shortly after the ChoicePoint Inc. identity theft scandal broke, Siciliano appeared on CNBC's "The Closing Bell" to discuss the dangers of identity theft. He is author of "The Safety Minute: 01" and an upcoming book, "Identity Theft Pandemic: Curing the Identity Theft Virus."
ChoicePoint CEO Derek Smith sat before congressional interrogators March 15 to answer questions about his company's practices. Kurt Sanford, CEO of Lexis Nexis, another data mining firm, also testified. Both CEOs were at odds with legislators who have called for the sale of social security numbers to be illegal.
"Smith's apology to Congress is insufficient," Siciliano said. "I challenge both Smith and Sanford to make their social security numbers available for sale. I'll pay each of them $5,000 and post their numbers on a highway billboard, which is no different than what they are doing with mine and yours."
MSNBC's Bob Sullivan reported on the exchange between these CEOs and members of Congress. Smith faced questions about the many circumstances surrounding his company's leak and the measures ChoicePoint has taken in response. One legislator, for instance, probed whether more than 145,000 individuals' identities might be at risk, supposing that ChoicePoint is only reporting thefts as required by the law.
"I have mentioned it many times," said Siciliano. "The situation at ChoicePoint, with the delays in reporting thefts to the public and the large sums of money that executives there made on stock sales during the silence, are causes for alarm. These are wolves in sheeps' clothing that pose a threat to national security. Their actions are possibly aiding and abetting terrorists, and these CEOs offer an 'I'm sorry.' This industry needs serious attention."
Sanford answered questions about a theft of 32,000 identities at Lexis Nexis. Thieves stole information by using customers' passwords. In fact, identity theft continues nationwide at a frenetic pace:
--The Associated Press reported March 9 that thieves had lifted customers' credit card information from more than 100 DSW Shoe Warehouse stores over the last three months.
--The Associated Press reported March 8 on the theft of about 1,700 blank driver's licenses and license-making equipment such as cameras from a Nevada DMV office in North Las Vegas.
--Reuters reported March 9 that hackers have obtained from publisher Reed Elsevier's databases the personal information of about 32,000 people.
"This really is just the beginning. It's only going to get worse. With identity theft resulting in $48 billion in losses last year, information brokers are the greatest threat to our economy and national security," Siciliano said. "We are not just concerned about loss of money and ruined credit histories. The identities of everyday Americans have also suddenly become valuable to terrorists, both rogue and organized, who want to enter the country and hurt us. The bleeding has to stop."
Siciliano is available to discuss identity theft as it pertains to personal finances, the terrorism threat, and national security. A speaker as featured on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, "ABC News with Sam Donaldson," "The Montel Williams Show," "Maury Povich," "Sally Jesse Raphael" and "The Howard Stern Show." Siciliano leads seminars nationwide. He has been quoted in Reuters, RealtyTimes.com, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, Mademoiselle, The New York Post, The New York Times, The Washington Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor and other publications.
Siciliano's blog is available at www.IDTheftSecurity.blogspot.com. Siciliano can be reached at 1(888)SICILIANO (742-4542). The following URLs will take readers to his Web site and information about his work: Main Web site: http://www.IDTheftSecurity.com Siciliano's biography: http://www.idtheftsecurity.com/PDF/11x17_1wc.pdf Testimonials: http://www.idtheftsecurity.com/PDF/11x17_3wc.pdf
Siciliano's contact information follows: Robert Siciliano Personal Security Expert PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542) FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669) E-MAIL: Robert@IDTheftSecurity.com The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly.
They may also contact: STETrevisions, strategic communications Brent W. Skinner, President PHONE: 617-875-4859 FAX: 866-663-6557 BrentSkinner@STETrevisions.com
CONTACT:Robert SicilianoBoston, MA 02215PHONE. (888)742-4542E-MAIL: Robert@IDTheftSecurity.com
KEYWORDS: Identity, theft, fraud, Internet, security, Computer, Personal, Privacy, rights, advocates, Terrorists, Terrorism, National