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Banks, stores want to make sure you're you

Nov. 8, 2006 at 9:45 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- To thwart online identity thieves, banks and retailers are going on basic personal identifiers, asking consumers, for instance, the color of their car.

Requesting more personal information is one way banks said they can fight online theft from scams such as "phishing," in which thieves try to capture unsuspecting consumer's personal or account information. Chase, HSBC, Vanguard, American Express and Barclaycard US use this technology, USA Today said, and Mellon Financial is testing it.

The institutions pull consumer information from public and private databases and use it when in credit card approvals or granting online account access, USA Today said. At least six of the top 10 U.S. banks and thrifts adopted the technology.

"Names, addresses and Social Security numbers are no longer the unique identifiers they used to be," Kevin Watson, chief executive officer of technology provider Verid, told USA Today. "You can phish someone's password and Social Security number, but you can't phish someone's memories."

Privacy advocates expressed concern that the technology could violate consumer privacy, USA Today said. One privacy advocacy group called the practice "scary," adding that consumers can't control how the information is used.

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