Wednesday, June 29, 2005

End secret thefts

If all the purse snatchings and picked pockets were added together since U.S. police began keeping records, they wouldn't come close to equaling the personal "thefts" committed this year.

High-tech hackers have pulled off phantom thefts of personal files and credit cards in computer crimes that the brainiest security experts seem unable to stop.

Beyond the repeated incidents, including the theft of 40 million credit card numbers in one electronic heist two weeks ago, the most outrageous revelation in this crime wave is that victims might never have known about them were it not for a California law.

Only California has a law requiring credit card firms to disclose to cardholders they've been victimized. Congress hasn't enacted a law because credit card firms pressured Washington politicians into believing legislation wasn't necessary. Let victims find out for themselves, seemed to be the attitude of credit card execs.

Experts now are ascribing outright laxity and sheer carelessness in computer security to the thefts, which can lead to identity theft and fraudulent use of card numbers to obtain cash and goods.

One overseas World Wide Web site even has offered stolen credit card numbers for sale, which means some victims may spend years restoring their credit and good names.

Congress needs to end its cozy accommodations for credit card companies and draft tough regulations that assure consumers that corporations responsible for protecting them are doing that and not merely collecting high interest fees.

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