231 Erwin Road

My experiences as a Northern transplant down in Chapel Hill, NC, 2005. And now my experiences back up in NYC.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Have you found my personal identify information? Please call 212-555-1212.

I open up my mail today to find this letter:
"We are writing to let you know that a computer tape containing information about you and your mortgage account with ABN AMRO Mortgage Group, Inc. has been lost while being transported by DHL courier service to a credit reporting company.


The tape, which included the names, account information, payment history and Social Security numbers of our residential mortage customers, was shipped via DHL from our data center in Chicago to the credit reporting company, Experian. The tape was lost after DHL picked it up from the data center. We and other lenders routinely provide this information to credit reporting companies to ensure your credit report is up-to-date."

So it seems that my mortgage company, ABN Amro (mortgage.com) sends my credit information to Experian via DHL. There was no mention of encryption, so I'm assuming it was clear text.

As bad as that sounds, I will at least thank ABN Amro because they offered me free credit monitoring for 90 days.

I think there is a serious problem with identity and 'credit' information in this country (and maybe others.) We have this some what secret social security number that is supposed to uniquely identify us. However, I think we should have TWO identifiers, one super secret and one super public. I'd be happy to give out my public ID to companies because it wouldn't matter if it ends up in the wrong hands, because that seems to happen all the time these days. But it would allow companies to UNIQUELY identify me, something that they have been using social security numbers for. The super secret one could be used at the discretion of the individual. Maybe they only give it out in person or over the web on secure websites. And it should ALWAYS be stored in an ENCRYPTED format.

Which leads to my other confusion about access to OUR information in this country. Why do we have such limited access to our credit report where that is the one place we can track if any damage is being done? Shouldn't we have FULL and FREE access to this report 24x7? Most people don't even realize ID theft has occurred into a few weeks or few months in. This could be avoided much earlier if we had free access and alerts to our reports. It would save millions for the credit companies by reducing fraud.


UPDATE: This article claims that the tape has now been found. Well, at least I now get 90 free days to watch if anybody else looses my data. Shouldn't this service be FREE to EVERYONE ALL of the TIME?


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