Fake ID picture courtesy of caural at Flickr
I've done a couple of posts about how new employment verification laws are likely cause more illegal immigrants to use real identities. In the not too distant future, Social Security numbers are probably going to have to be able to be tied into a real identity to meet federal employment eligibility requirements.
Arizona -- which already ranks extremely high in incidents of identity theft, according to the various studies conducted on the subject -- might be on the front line of a new effort designed to stem the flow of illegal immigration.
Daniel González (Arizona Republic) did an interesting story on this issue in Arizona:
Arizona's new employer-sanctions law requires companies to verify worker eligibility through a federal database. Lawmakers in other states also are taking steps to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to use fake documents to land jobs, hoping the crackdown will cut down on illegal immigration. And under new rules announced last week by the Bush administration, employers risk prosecution if they don't fire workers whose names and Social Security numbers don't match.
But nobody thinks the fraudulent-document industry in Arizona will dry up and disappear. If anything, it's going to get bigger and more sophisticated as criminals who make fake documents adapt to meet demand. The database can't flag documents made with stolen identities, where the names and numbers match. As a result, a proliferation of fraudulent IDs, combined with identity theft, could undercut the employer-sanctions law.
In July, Arizona signed a pretty tough law designed to go after employers, who hire illegal immigrants:
In July, Gov. Janet Napolitano signed a tough employer-sanctions law aimed at turning off the job magnet that draws illegal immigrants. The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, revokes business licenses of employers caught knowingly hiring illegal workers a second time. It also requires the more than 150,000 licensed Arizona employers to run Social Security numbers and other data for new employees through the federal Basic Pilot Program, an electronic verification system. Arizona businesses employ about 2.6 million workers.
Two other states, Colorado and Georgia, have passed similar laws.
David's interesting article goes on to give some scary (real world) examples of how easily counterfeit documents are obtained.
In the article, David cites an Arizona Task Force, which was able to get all kinds of counterfeit documents using names of known terrorists.
The crooks and gangsters behind data breaches -- which frequently make the news, and already provide a lot of information to criminals in too many places, including Internet chatrooms -- are probably gearing up to sell to a potentially large market segment (20 million people).
Of course, a lot of legitimate businesses are already marketing to this segment of society. How many times do we hear, "press 1 for English ..," when using the services of a lot of the businesses out there?
It's become easy to counterfeit documents and too much information has already been compromised. A lot of these documents are produced in apartments and garages, using portable technology, easily purchased from a variety of sources. It doesn't take a lot of expertise to accomplish what causes a lot of damage to the person, who has had their identity stolen.
The criminals selling the information and producing the counterfeit documents don't really care, who is buying them as long as they are getting paid.
There is no easy solution to this. There are a lot of reasons from the rights of the middle class (who foot the bill for all of this) to our health and well-being, which dictate that stronger action needs be taken.
I just hope, we aren't planning to take half-steps and end up with a bigger problem.
The key would be to look at the enabling factors, which make it pretty easy to use someone else's information. The government, financial, retail and IT sectors need to start working together instead of against each other. Recently, this problem seems to be turning into a blame game, where everyone seems to be blaming each other.
Hopefully, most of them are already taking measures to do this. Getting caught losing information doesn't exactly inspire consumer confidence, or the trust of the voting public.
Besides that, it's getting more and more expensive to clean up the mess that this problem causes. Maybe the cost (money involved) will be what finally gets a few people's attention!
Daniel González's very interesting article, here.