Why does terminology matter? Larry Downes explains:
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No one’s “identity” is being stolen, but the use of the term to describe every financial fraud involving a computer amps up the terror level of consumers who largely have nothing to fear. The vast majority of “real” identity theft has nothing to do with computers at all, but rather begins with a stolen or lost wallet, stolen or simply discarded mail, or inside jobs pulled by clerks and others with legitimate access to the data.
The real problems are on the back-end, where credit card systems are left insufficiently secured, or where laptops with sensitive data are left in the back seats of cars where they are stolen not for the data but for the hardware. We keep hearing horror stories of government employees, university officials, and private sector employees who can’t even be bothered to put password protection on their logins, let alone encrypt their data. And the continued use of social security numbers by private enterprises both as a customer ID and an authentication field is probably the most dangerous practice of all.
[A]s long as consumers are being misdirected to think it’s their behavior that needs to be controlled, the financial services industry can avoid solving their largely self-made problems.