Monday, 30 March 2009

Protect Your Identity & Don’t Implicitly Trust

I was looking at new cars over the weekend, I saw a car I liked and naturally wanted to take it out for a test drive. On making this request, the car sales guy immediately asked to see my driver’s license or credit card.  A little puzzled by the “or credit card”, I asked whether he needed either one to prove I was lawful to drive, or for identification purposes.  The sales guy said told me it was their policy, and need it to prove my identity and to keep hold of for “security” while I took the car out.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the UK, and there are certain elements which we cannot control in protecting ourselves, such as when companies lose or have stolen our personal information. But there are many elements we still can control, such as protecting the personal information we have in our possession. A UK driver’s license is one of the strongest forms of proving our identity in the UK, and therefore has value to identity thieves, who can easily clone fake versions using your details and their picture.  Therefore the last thing anyone should be doing is to implicitly trusting companies and strangers with holding these important forms of personal identification, especially if the document is going to be held out of sight for any period of time, or be photocopied.

Its clear many people are not doing enough to protect their identities, as the sales guy response was to tell me not to worry, as they do this thing all the time, and then went on to inform me that my driver’s license would be photocopied, but the details would be kept safe. Noooo! It doesn’t need a formal risk assessment to establish there was no way I was going to implicitly trust a car salesman with anything, let alone my key personal details and documentation.

So I came up with my own very simple solution, I just had the sales guy accompany me on the test drive, and so I didn’t allow a total “stranger” to hold on to and copy one of my key identity documents and the salesman could be sure I return with the car.  By the way, I didn’t buy the car!

Before handing over identity documents, just consider whether it is actually necessary, don't be afriad to question what they are needed for, and whether they will be photocopied. Consider what may happen to your identity documentation while it is out of your sight. Heaven forbid if it is photocopied, as at that point you lose complete control over protecting the document and another element of your identity protection.

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