Can Supply Chain Expertise Impede Identity Theft?

It's been too long since I last posted here at Spend Matters. I've been immersed in a new domain, that of identity theft. In my immersion, I've found that elements I've picked up from the Spend Management domain have a fair amount of resonance when applied to the shady dealings of identity thieves.

Take, for example, the "supply chain" that delivers your identity into the hands of a criminal capable of using that identity for material gain. It's not like the original thief is the ultimate user. Just like the supply chains we are familiar with, there are raw material extractors, middlemen adding value, aggregators, and OEMs too.

This virtual market also has its "marketplaces" on the web. They are in impermanent internet chat-rooms nicely described in a recent CNN Money article. Like most successful markets, the idea is to have the maximum amount of qualified buyers assembled to bid on your items. "Qualification," here, is a relative term given the nefarious nature of the trade. But still, wouldn't you like to get your hands on the RFI?

Given the standardized nature of identity elements that are traded (credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.) much that is traded has a market price. Simple credit cards go for $0.98 in bulk, for example. Some product differentiation (and higher prices) is possible if you can construct a full identity for trade. With a full identity that can fool vendors, you might be able to buy high-end stuff on credit and make off with the goods while the bill goes to collection.

All in all this new market -- which I'm still learning about -- reminds me of other markets you all participate in on a daily basis. The challenge for me is to switch from my familiar role as a facilitator of efficient commerce to one who wishes to impede the flow of stolen identities. And that's your thought problem for the day: how would you muck up the system you've worked so hard to make efficient?

Paul Noël

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