Eres tu! You are you!-A A +A
Friday, October 19, 2012
THIS might sound facetious, but how can I really know it’s you? In this age of interconnectivity and globalization, “you” could be someone else impersonating you.
I’ve been receiving messages from “friends” using their “own” emails, asking for financial assistance because they “lost” all their money, credit and identification cards while in London or Madrid.
It turned out their emails have been hacked and cyber criminals are using the commandeered accounts for their scams. My friends have become victims of identity theft or what others call identity fraud or impersonation.
There are also forms of identity theft. The US Federal Trade Commission, in its 2006 Identity Theft Survey Report, reported that “Determining the link between data breaches and identity theft is challenging, primarily because identity theft victims often do not know how their personal information was obtained, and identity theft is not always detectable by the individual victims.”
Another form of identity theft is through stolen or counterfeit passports to escape justice. Assistant Secretary Jaime Victor Ledda of the Office of Consular Affairs of the DFA said that fugitive ex-Palawan Governor Joel Reyes used a tampered passport to flee the country earlier this month. Reyes is wanted for the murder of Palawan-based environmentalist and broadcaster Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega in Puerto Princesa early last year.
Reyes used the identity of Joseph Lim Pe, whose passport was tampered with the substitution of the latter’s photo on the passport data page with that of the former Palawan Governor.
How that happened is still a mystery though. Maybe the forged passport might be like my old maroon machine-readable passports passport, but is due to expire next year.
Losing a passport can prove to be a more serious matter than having your driver’s license stolen. When this important document falls prey to a malicious individual, there is a great chance that it will be used to commit identity theft.
Take heart. While the DFA still recognizes green colored non-electronic passports until they expire, the Department has shifted to issuing e-passports since August 11, 2009.
The implementation of the e-Passport system in 2009 makes it hard to forge e-passports. Our DFA is now using iris recognition, the automated method of biometric identification that uses mathematical pattern-recognition techniques on video images of the irides of an individual’s eyes, whose complex random patterns are unique and can be seen from some distance.
Today, there are various machines designed to perform retina or iris scans but all follow the same basic principles. Once the machine has a copy of the scan, it compares the picture to all the different scans on file, looks for a match, and identifies the individual.
No two eyes are the same. Like fingerprints, blood vessels on the back of a human eye are unique to every person. Even identical twins have different patterns of these blood vessels.
Thus, even if a criminal substitutes his or her own photo from a purloined passport, the new e-passport has various security features, including a hidden encoded image; an ultra-thin, holographic laminate; and a tamper-proof electronic microchip that will unmask the pretender because the passport won’t literally see “eye-to-eye” with the holder.
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts,” says Albert Einstein. But the heart may be unable to tell the difference between the real deal from the counterfeit passport holder who obviously would have a criminal or terrorist intent.
Beauty lies in the beholder who can spot the real from the bogus passport or counterfeit ID holder.
Please email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 20, 2012.