Since 1997 identity theft and fraud has affected more than 5.4 million people in the United States. And that number is on the rise with, more than 1.3 million complaints to the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) between January and December of 2009 alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission (PDF), of the 721,418 fraud-related complaints to the CSN in 2009, this has cost customers [of various products and services] more than 1.7 billion dollars at a median payout of $399. But what can companies do to prevent fraud and identity theft?
According to Network World a 4-digit numerical PIN can create only about 10,000 combinations. Use letters of the alphabet and that increases to 45,000; use a mix of letters and numbers and you have 1.5 million possibilities. With the advancements in computing, pounding through millions of combinations only takes a short limited amount of time. Thankfully, there may be a new method to fix all of this: cell phone biometrics.
TechBiometric points out that "biometric systems can be implemented on cell phone[s] using different biometric techniques" (for instance, voice recognition). Another option would be to combine one service with another like a site login plus verification from your cell phone. Network World writer Dave Kearns reanalysed this and points out that this could be done by simply logging in with your username and password, you then receive a one-use code on your phone which you then input into the app on the PC, and finally you are granted access. Make sure to check out Network World's story for the full details.
The above method could be used for a number of services including social networking services, various internet apps, and even ATMs. Unfortunately, it's not full proof if someone happens to steal all your data, including your phone, but it's better than most current methods. This method may also not work if you are in a building or in the middle of no where and have no phone service (better make sure you carry cash in case you run out of gas in the middle of the desert).