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Time to sting the ID thieves

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It’s an old trick, but with our fast-paced, digitally connected world, it has become much more than an irritation. I am talking about ID theft, perhaps the fastest growing criminal activity in the US and other parts of the developed world. And it yields millions of victims every year. Some have their credits dented, others lose their shirts. But however the damage, for many it has become as unnerving as having their homes burglarized. And yet somehow it's even worse. Your identity could be stolen and abused years before you find out about it, and to add insult to injury, many of the crooks never see a day in court.

ID theft has become so pervasive and so easy to pull off, that it now threatens the very fabric of our society. Armed with little more than a name and a social security number, criminals are obtaining licenses, bank accounts, jobs, credit cards, and continue their black art with total impunity. When the victim's credit is all but gone, they just move onto the next soul, leaving the victim to clean up the mess. The damage goes well beyond a financial hit. It's a personal assault on one's dignity and good name that is so arduous to recreate. Read this.

We all know that it's high time the society begins to vigorously fight back, but so far only a handful have been charged and the law enforcement agencies have offered little more than advising vigilance to citizens. Not enough. Without deterrents, what would discourage the potential criminals to shun the habit?

Here's an idea. How about sting operations? Law enforcement uses these all the time to snare drug dealers, prostitution rings, organized crime elements, and I'm sure terrorist cells. What if the law enforcement agencies bulked up their anti ID theft personnel, used informants and recruit a few private companies that are proficient at digital tracking and monitoring? What if they set up a block of fake names and social security numbers with proper alert points (perhaps from the credit agencies) to trace illegal activity? And what if they offered rewards for would be tipsters? Of course these steps won't completely eradicate the ID theft problem, but the alternative is to sit idly and let the brazen criminals walk away with our belongings and smear our good names in the process.

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