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09/24/2006

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Chris Hoofnagle

>Two of the comments make the excellent point that much, maybe most, identity theft consists in a friend or relative stealing personal identifying information...

The cause of identity theft is only kwown in 50% of cases. In only 26% of cases, the victim knew the identity of the criminal. Here's what the FTC wrote in 2003:

"35% of the 26% of victims who knew the identity (or, in other words, 9% of all victims) said a family member or relative was the person responsible for misusing their personal information...23% of the 26% of all victims who knew the identity of the thief (or 6% of all victims) said the person responsible was someone who worked at a company or financial institution that had access to the victim’s personal information...Of the 26% who knew the identity of the person who took their information, 18% said the thief was a friend, neighbor, or in-home employee, while 16% said the thief was a complete stranger, but the victim later became aware of the thief’s identity. (These figures represent 5% and 4% of all victims respectively.)"

A more interesting approach than penalties would be to limit the ability of businesses to write off identity fraud against their taxes. There's too much of an economic incentive to establish new accounts; if that were blunted with more direct (not tax-subsidized) losses, businesses would do more to prevent the problem.

Jonathan

He learned to talk and then lost his legs. It's kind of like getting all the miles when a thief steals your credit card. You might be excited at first to see the buildup in your reward points, but the long-term consequences stink, and the miles--much like the snake's voice--don't last.

Walter Jones

If I might comment on the two posts on DDT by Becker and Posner, it appears to me that the two of you are confusing the way DDT works, and that might explain some of the apprehension in re-introducing it. DDT is very effective as a bug repellant. While it does work to some extent as a pesticide, that is not the best use.

The primary problems it caused was not cancer in humans, but rather the destruction of wildlife, fowl in particular, by softening the eggshells.

I have never heard of it being used as a herbecide.

Spraying on house walls is particularly effective in the repellant mode.

Hope this clarifies some of the issues surrounding the use of DDT.

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