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Thankfully I haven’t suffered this, but I’m extremely bothered by the term “identity theft”. I suspect the terminology has been carefully crafted by weasel banks and creditors to make victims out of innocent third parties, allowing themselves to escape culpability for losses caused by their own gullibility.

Think how that might work the other way around: You have been passed some bad money. You try to deposit the counterfeit notes at your bank but they’re not obliging. The Federal Reserve has been duped, you say, not you. It is the Fed’s good name and their identity which is appropriated on counterfeit bank notes. You have no duty to authenticate the money nor do you accept any risk in losing valuable products or services traded for that fake money. You are entitled to the full benefit of the Fed’s printed promise: Legal tender for all debts private and public. Your bank must accept the deposit and tell the Fed to make good on the loss since their identity was misrepresented and they must sort out the mess they’re in. Yeah, right! Try that one on at your bank.

The Fed’s identity is stolen on counterfeit notes: Therefore they must suffer the loss and sort out the mess they’re in, right?

If somebody turns up at your bank, without your prior knowledge, and manages to convince them that they have your permission to clean out an account you have on deposit there, who and what was robbed?

  • The bank, of cash?
  • You, your identity and, thereafter, your money as well?

Does a bank act in good faith by handing over your cash to anybody who asks for it in your name? Would you even trust your money to a bank who claims as much? Isn’t a bank obligated to ensure they have authentic instructions from you to disburse your monies?

Specimen $50 bank note

Do you become the victim of a fraud perpetrated on your bank when you weren’t even there and had no prior knowledge of it? You shouldn’t, but if you accept that your identity was stolen instead of the bank was defrauded then you imply some involvement in the loss.

The bank misjudged somebody’s claim to the identity of an innocent customer and based on that misrepresentation and the bank’s inability to authenticate their real customer’s instructions, money was paid out and lost: The crime is one of fraud upon the bank. The loss should be the bank’s.

So resolve, here and now, never to become the victim of identity theft by never acknowledging nor using that term again.

The fact that much of this fraud is caused via the mail or by online criminals seems to anesthetise banks out of doing their due diligence — in fact, more care and thoroughness is required online than when customers present themselves in person. Have you seen the fake out videos at fakechecks.org? If banks were to see the frauds perpetrated on themselves in the the same light, then they would be less likely to fall victim to such crimes. But no, since they can so easily hold themselves blameless and transfer the risk to their customers by a clever bit of semantics — called identity theft — why should they care much?

Does your bank take it’s due diligence so lightly that they’ve left the keys to your money, figuratively speaking, under their door mat?

Suggested listening Mitchell & Webb on Identity Theft

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