Scoring Your Identity

New tactics root out the false use of personal data
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As identity theft--and worry about it--burgeons around the world, online services are springing up to fight it. Their advanced tactics, collectively known as identity scoring, go beyond the usual credit monitoring to include online data mining, pattern recognition, even semantic analysis of information about a subscriber that appears on Web pages. The approach is enjoying increasing success in unveiling suspicious activity.

Among the latest firms to join the battle is Garlik, a start-up in Richmond, England. In October 2006 it began offering its "data patrol" service to British residents, 100,000 of whom fell prey to identity theft last year. Garlik combs credit reports, public databases and Web sites for information about customers and presents them with a detailed profile. The portrait allows them to see whether criminals may be trying to use their personal facts to apply for credit cards, take out a loan, or register a fake driver's license or marriage certificate. Four days after Garlik went live at, more than 10,000 Brits had registered. An annual subscription costs £30 ($59).

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