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Posts Tagged ‘identity theft’

"Is Everything We Know About Password-Stealing Wrong?"

The next time your bank or credit-card company frantically calls and texts and e-mails you (all at the same time) to say it has noticed “suspicious activity” on your account — like buying gas in a ZIP code a bit poorer than your own — and says it has suspended your account “for your protection,” tell them to read this paper, by Dinei Florencio and Cormac Herley of Microsoft Research. A key passage:

We show that, in spite of appearances, password-stealing is a bad business proposition. … It is worth, at the outset, dispelling a widely-held misapprehension about password-stealing. Thieves certainly steal passwords, and money is certainly a large part of their motivation, but when they successfully extract money from financial accounts individual consumers do not pay. In the US, Regulation E of the Federal Reserve limits consumer liability, in the event of fraud, to $50 (this is separate from the $50 limit for credit-card fraud, Regulation CC) and covers “any electronic transfer that is initiated through an electronic terminal, telephone, computer or magnetic tape.” In the US banks, brokerages, and credit unions are governed by this regulation and most go beyond it and o ffer a zero liability policy to consumers.

(HT: Peter Baehr)

This Identity Theft I Can Live With

This week in reader e-mail brings a note from a 46-year-old man in Rockland County, N.Y., a director in a private company that outsources invoicing for telecommunications companies and newspapers. It turns out that he and I have something in common. Here is a tale of identity theft I am happy to report: Hello Stephen, My name is Steven Dubner. . . .

The FREAK-est Links

New company plans to stop online identity theft. (Earlier) Does discrimination start in the brain? Obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking slash your chances of living to 90. (Earlier) How do non-New Yorkers psychologically perceive New York?

The FREAK-est Links

Is PTSD the only result for Iraq veterans? Just how dangerous is personal data on the Internet? (Earlier) How do people describe themselves with one word? An experiment. Is Jan. 21 truly the “most depressing day of the year”?

The FREAK-est Links

17 people indicted for identity theft in New York. (Earlier) Economists and psychologists tackle speed dating. Everything you ever wanted to know about U.S. cities. A foolproof strategy for winning at Monopoly. (Hat tip: BoingBoing)

The FREAK-est Links

Should age be measured according to “years left to live”? (Hat tip: Marginal Revolution) Study profiles the average identity thief. (Earlier) More baseball promotions: free tacos for stolen bases. (Earlier) Rock Paper Scissors goes high-tech. (Earlier)

The FREAK-est Links

Is the U.S. “war on cancer” focusing on the wrong things? Britain studies the economic impact of higher education. Chinese-made Cub Scout badges recalled for lead. (HT: Consumerist) Identity data: the newest hot commodity for businesses. (Earlier)

The FREAK-est Links

Excel expert gives away free copies of his books online. (Earlier) Mayor Bloomberg targeted by identity thieves. (Earlier) The Rubik’s Cube World Championships — the next Rock, Paper Scissors? Steve Pinker calls the modern age “the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.” (Earlier)

Is OpenID the Solution to Online Identity Theft?

In March, Dubner and Levitt tackled the realities of identity theft. Now, with phishing scams getting ever cleverer, state government databases leaving sensitive private information accessible to the world, and identity thieves expanding their schemes into Web giants like Facebook, it’s worth asking: how will the problem of identity theft be solved? Technology innovators have been plugging away, of course, . . .

The FREAK-est Links

Thieves hack, steal user info. (Earlier.) Study shows we’re poor predictors of our own emotions. (Earlier.) Advertisers to see your every detail on Facebook. Gambling to be monitored at U.S. Open. No word on doping. (Earlier.)

The Full Tilt/CNN Phishing Scam, Resolved

Last night, Levitt posted this discovery of what seemed like a phishing expedition (and revealed to the world his late-night poker habits). As of 9:10 a.m. today, the site in question ( was down. (Back when we wrote a column about Steven Peisner and identity theft, a fake Bank of America site was also summarily disabled, showing that if nothing . . .

The FREAKest Links: Use MySpace, Lose Your Identity Edition

Following Steve Peisner’s infiltration of the Texas state database, BBC News reports that Equifax, a credit information service, is warning that users of social networking sites are heightening their risk of identity theft by putting too much personal information on their MySpace and Facebook profiles. Via the New York Times: Despite efforts by U.S. communications companies to bring high-speed Internet . . .

I.D.-Theft Watchdog Finds the State of Texas is Wide Open for I.D. Thieves

Steven Peisner, whom Dubner and Levitt wrote about recently in a column on identity theft, has made a career out of trying to stop people from hacking or otherwise stealing valuable information from websites. So Peisner’s ears perked up when he learned of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott‘s announcement on May 31 that Texas now requires companies to shred documents . . .

Slandered by Dick Durbin?

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois is apparently not much of a Freakonomics fan, or maybe he thinks it’s something that it’s not. He trashed our good (ha!) name the other day during a Senate Appropriation Committee hearing that was probing the budget of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Here’s the story, as covered by OMB . . .

Freakonomics in the Times Magazine: Identity Crisis

The March 11, 2007, Freakonomics column in the New York Times Magazine asks this question: Who really cares about identity theft? Dubner and Levitt clear up some misconceptions about the subject and get a guided tour of a hacker chat room where credit-card numbers, passwords, and PIN’s are bought and sold. This blog post supplies additional research material.