Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DSW Forced to Tighten Identity Data Protection

In 2005 DSW, a major shoe retailer and on-line
merchant, was a high profile victim of identity
theft affected 1.4 million of it's customers.

At that time hackers, according to the Federal Trade
Commission, DSW's faulty data security procedures
were able to responsible for hackers gaining access to
the confidential credit card, debit card and checking
account information of over 1.4 million consumers who
had previously trusted the shoe retailer enough as
customers.

"The FTC charges that until at least March 2005, DSW
engaged in a number of practices that, taken together,
failed to provide reasonable and appropriate security for
sensitive customer information."

The settlement requires DSW to establish and maintain
a comprehensive information security program that
includes administrative, technical, and physical safeguards.

It also requires DSW to obtain, every two years for
the next 20 years, an audit from a qualified, independent,
third-party professional to assure that its security
program meets the standards of the order."

In what may very well become an emerging standard in
2006 and beyond, large companies (DSW sold over 23 million
shoes, generating $960 million in revenues during 2004) are
now being held to a much higher standard of consumer data
security.

Given the other major data security breaches in 2005,
totaling over 56 million Americans being unjustly exposed
to identity theft, the FTC has been forced to take action
against DSW and 6 other firms.

However, let's not be swayed by a handful of token
cases against firms far less politically powerful in
Washington, DC than the financial services industry
that historically is one of the very largest campaign
contributors to both Republicans and Democrats alike.

For example, Bank of America has been documented with
3 major security breaches within the past few years.
The same for H&R Block.

So, while it may appear the watchdog (FTC) agency is
vigorously acting in the behalf of the average tax
paying consumer, it's still our primary responsibility
to take identity theft protection in our own hands.

Our tips for today is to lower your overall identity
theft potential by opting out, checking your credit
report for errors, institute automatic credit monitoring,
shred monthly financial statements after thorough
inspection, enroll in on-line bill payment, as well as
secure your mailbox.

An ounce of identity theft prevention is worth it's
weight in gold.


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