Know Your Data

When your identity is stolen and it is used fraudulently, the information that is provided (and accepted) in order to gain access to goods and services creates erroneous data. This inaccurate information purported to be true does not tell any “story” except one of criminality.

Using this data is not only ineffective, it should not be the basis for informing any research (for instance marketing). Yet, there does not seem to be any concerted effort to differentiate the origin of data. This is not surprising given that there is not much effort to thwart identity theft.

Take for instance the criminal who stole my identity. She commingled my identity with her own, thus creating someone who does not really exist - but is alive and well in data. 

If I search for information on myself in a search engine, I can see information that is generated that is supposed to be about “me,” but in reality is not me – it is rather a reminder that my identity was stolen as I see parts of the criminal’s identity included with mine. But, who else can tell that this is not the truth? I am truly the only one who can quickly identify these glaring errors. For others, they may accept the information for being accurate.

In another instance one of the companies where my information was fraudulently used has identified me as someone to keep on their mailing list, sending me their catalog in hopes that I will make a purchase. They clearly did not extract identity theft victims when updating their mailing list, but did they even consider these instances?

While there may be steps one can take to try and tackle each of these and other discrepancies, I have not had success in seeing immediate, if any, results. 

With millions upon millions (and growing) of cases of identity theft, this crime also leaves a deep trail of tainted information. Data needs to be carefully scrutinized from the onset (even before collection) in order to serve any meaningful purpose.

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro