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Will 2006 Be Record Year For Online Identity Theft

Today there are about three times more identities of U.S. residents on record than there are actual residents. Statistics cited at by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse show that the first six months of 2006, over 32 million U.S. identities were stolen in cyberspace. The site (www.privacyrights.org) includes a chronology of data breaches, and the institutions where they occurred, that resulted in 84 million Americans having their personal information compromised since the ChoicePoint incident in February 2005.

The bad news is that 2006 is likely to be the worst year ever for identity theft. The good news, says a company called Edentify is that actual losses from identity theft are continuing to fall.

Bethlehem, Pa.-based Edentify offers patented measures for companies and individuals to prevent identity theft, including an "identity escrow account," very similar to PayPal, that enables consumers to maintain ownership of their own biometric identity verification for every financial transaction they do. Edentify also offers its proprietary IDAssess technology to benchmark, flag and score "at risk" identities.

Though the mortgage application is a goldmine of borrower information, said Edentify CEO and fraud expert Terrence DeFranco, the mortgage industry is better than most at protecting borrower information. What makes fighting identify theft particularly difficult, he told Mortgage Servicing News, is that no financial losses come directly from identity theft.

"Fraud is the biggest threat to mortgage lenders, not identity theft," he noted. When people misplace their wallet, "they don't call the police and say they've been robbed," he observed. "We have spoken to virtually every credit-risk manager in the country and the [proven] losses are small compared to the high velocity of transactions." (c) 2006 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com