On the assumption that everything that happens in America happens here eighteen months later, Britain seems set for a nuclear explosion in identity theft, with the potential for lingering contamination in the economic system. Eradicating this is probably impossible at this stage, but control is a realistic aspiration, provided that identity handlers can sympathize, empathize, and operationalize to address the growing identity anxiety.

Managing identity theft is as much about embracing consumer psychology as it is about preventing the crime. To achieve this, financial services organizations should act more humanely at the customer interface; provide service solutions that recognize the psychological trauma involved; and move beyond mere technology adoption to operationalize identity theft prevention and response

processes consistently and reassuringly across all channels. They must systematically remove their

customers’ grounds for mistrust.

In Britain, of course, criminals are playing catch-up with America. There, identity fraud has been estimated at $50 billion by Benchmark Group, whereas the British government puts the problem at “just” £1.3 billion over here in the same period. But it is the knock-on effects on customer

confidence that are ringing alarm bells.

Peter Massey and Tim Kitchin have both professional and, unfortunately, personal experience of dealing with identity theft. They argue that elimination of the problem is virtually impossible, but effective control depends on adopting a different approach.


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