Protecting yourself

Double authentication may ward off ID theft

Emily Crone

As identity theft becomes increasingly common, businesses are creating multitudes of solutions to safeguard consumers’ personal and financial information. Some, such as Lifelock, claim to protect you from identity, but the company doesn’t quite work as advertised and is being sued for misleading marketing. Other solutions, such as biometric technology, aren’t really catching on. Fortunately, a new identity theft protection system truly shows promise.

The new process, called “two-factor authentication,” was featured by a company called RSA last month at its annual security conference, according to Its two-step process utilizes both your computer and cell phone to doubly protect your information. Here’s how it works: “When a Web user makes a purchase or performs a banking transaction online, the phone receives a wi-fi signal from the PC making the transaction,” the article says. The transaction pops up on the mobile handset and asks the user to approve it. Once approved, it sends a signal back to the computer and the money is transferred.

This means if someone steals your credit card information, they would not be able to make purchases with it online. If they hack into your online banking system, they cannot drain your account of money. Unless they have your cell phone, that is, which is likely to happen only if someone steals your entire purse. If only your wallet is stolen, the credit card information is still safe. Consumers would have an extra safeguard before the financial information could be used.

Obtaining both the financial information and the physical phone is “hardly a simple task for cybercriminal organizations that typically collect their thousands or millions of victims through phishing schemes or corporate data breaches,” the article says.

The only way I can see this becoming problematic is if this becomes so commonplace that when criminals rob people, they start asking for the wallet AND the cell phone.

By the way, my post “What if debt still equaled a prison sentence?” made it into the 140th Carnival of Debt Reduction, hosted by Prime Time Money. Additionally, my post “Hookers playing ‘Halo,’ charges from the grave and more: Wacky credit card stories” made it into the 153rd Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted by Money and Values. Be sure to check them out!

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  • Jeff carlson

    Funny how Emily states LifeLock doesn’t work as they have received nemerous praise that their service stops I’d theft. Also, Emily blogs for and they sell LifeLock on their site. Maybe she should do some more research about the products they offer.

  • toni

    how can i get a credit card