Losing Our Identities

Physician's Money Digest, August 2005, Volume 12, Issue 12

Government

involvement:

Who knew names, addresses, andSocial Security numbers would garnersuch criminal attention? If you aren'talready aware of the 21st-century's versionof thievery, maybe it's time you gotacquainted. That's what Congress isdoing these days. In an attempt to resolvea problem that affects millions ofAmericans every year, lawmakers andexecutives recently met on Capitol Hillto discuss identity theft. One of themajor issues addressed during the sessionwas consumer notification. Rightnow, California is the only state thatrequires companies like personal-informationbrokers to notify consumers whenthere's been a security breach. If all goes well inWashington, however, the golden state'sconsumer notification laws could serve asthe model for future federal regulations.Naturally, not everyone is rooting forstricter regulations, particularly the companiesthat will be responsible for passingon the bad news. Since notifying consumersof security breaches will cost thesebusinesses extra money, they want to bein charge of deciding when spilling thebeans is and isn't necessary.