To Fight Identity Theft, a Call for Banks to Disclose All Incidents

The New York Times


The proposal, submitted by Chris Jay Hoofnagle, a lawyer and senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California, recommends that lending institutions like banks and credit card companies, and payment firms like PayPal, be required to report their internal figures on fraud and identity theft publicly.

“Currently our understanding of identity theft is clouded by politically motivated polls and bad methods for collecting data,” said Mr. Hoofnagle, who will testify at today’s hearing. “If we have a better understanding of the crisis, regulators and law enforcement can figure out how to attack it.”


Mr. Hoofnagle argues that such reporting would also help illuminate a criminal tactic called synthetic identity theft, in which fraud artists combine pieces of real and fictional identities from several sources to open accounts. Polls may shed little light on this particular problem, which may produce losses for banks but not for individual consumers.