I want to know how much you earn because you are applying for a job with my company and I want to check what your present employer thinks you are worth.

extrakollpng

This is easy to do in Sweden, and you as the data subject have no idea that this has happened. It is possible for any person to go online and request anonymously your earnings for 2 completed tax years in Sweden at http://www.extrakoll.se/, and the requester to get the information by SMS.

How do you do this is:

  1. Visit www.extrakoll.se and search for the name of the individual you are investigating;
  2. Then you will be requested to send an SMS to number 72323 with word INKOMST+code or/and STORKOLL+code;
  3. You are given choices of payment methods, 20kr or 40kr, depending on which option you choose;
  4. The earnings for the targeted person for 2 of the previously reported tax years will be sent to your mobile telephone!

There is no way you can prevent others from requesting this information on yourself.

Nevertheless, it is against the EU Directive on Data Protection because you, the data subject are not informed that this information has been requested, and your Personal Identifying Information (PII) is public domain. I am sure identity thieves find extrakoll.se a useful tool to research their victims. I just hope it’s not you!

law-legislationOr is it?  Not really, it was an id fraud just waiting to happen, so if it is no surprise than it is not embarrassing really….. except it was top Swedish profiles that had their e-leg used fraudulently. That was pretty awkward for Telia, SBAB, Avanza and the Swedish Tax Authority ….and the party poppers were out this weekend for Swedish press.

SBAB and Avanza immediately issued a statement saying that they had stopped using the Telia e-leg. However the Swedish Tax Authority are waiting to see how things develop…..

But why do I say it was an id fraud waiting to happen? The problem is pretty straightforward. All credentials pertaining to access to information that we as natural and legal persons need to access/process is organised with the information, what I call ‘information silos’, not with the natural person. An ‘information silo’ can be financial information, i.e. your money in the bank, it could be your tax returns, or it could be your health information, your children’s information held by government authorities. In fact every ‘information silo’ has your logon credentials, i.e. your so called ‘digital identity’ or as was the case in this rather embarrassing crime, your e-leg. If you were to add to this list your credentials on LinkedIn, Facebook, your store cards, and loyalty schemes… you have potentially 100s of ‘digital identities’ that are fair game to identity fraud. Although I said this wrong… you don’t have 100s of ‘digital identities’, because they don’t belong to you. You have no control over your so called ‘digital identities’ whether these are in the form of e-leg or not. Well e-leg is yours, right? No it is not, it’s not controlled by you. In this example of id fraud, your digital id is created by a third party, and they even send the secret codes for access to information through the post.

I don’t know anyone that knows exactly how many ‘digital identities’ they have, because all so called ‘digital identities’ are owned and managed by the owners of the ‘information silos’. Clearly if you trust the 100s of information owners to be doing their job right, and to care about you and your personal privacy, then I guess it’s not a problem, but I don’t. I am sure that I care more about my digital identity than anyone else out there controlling my access to their information silos.

I don’t know anyone that has complete control over their digital identity or their digital footprint. What is more is that if anything bad happened to any of these identities, you would have no idea… even if you check your bank account daily, it doesn’t matter, because this is only one of many opportunities for identity fraudsters to take over and cause temporary chaos (for just a year or two) in your, and your family’s life.

So what’s the future? What I visualise is a world whereby I own my digital identity. I control my digital identity. I have only a single digital identity that is a digital and legal representative of my natural self. The fact that I own my digital identity, all transactions pertaining to my digital self will be mine.   This means that if I have a 100 places that I conduct digital interactions, that regardless of which legal entity has been agreed to own the content of the interaction, both parties will receive details of all transactions pertaining to the digital interactions. This would give me, as the identity owner, absolute transparency, and legal traceability.

It is how it should work after all. One digital identity for each natural/legal person. It’s pretty obvious really, isan’t it?

64 thousand Swedish identities were hijacked in 2013. Population of Sweden is today around 9,5 million. This means that the crime of identity fraud impacted around 0,8 percent of the Swedish population.

“So what, that’s nothing?” You are thinking….

Nevertheless this is almost 1 in a 100 of Swedish residents who have been a victim to identity fraud in 2013 alone. Hence Sweden is not exempt from the growing trend of identity fraud globally.

However in Sweden it’s going to increase exponentially if Swedish law is not changed. What we can expect is that subsequent years will welcome an influx of fresh victims; that could be you if you are one of the 9.5 million residents or/and citizens of Sweden, your friends, or even your children.

Identity fraud in Sweden will increase exponentially if Swedish law is not changed!

identity-theftFirst a little history on how we got to where we are. Sweden is one of the few countries globally that is organized enough to have implemented a comprehensive personal identity numbering scheme. It was first introduced in 1947 and was probably the first of its kind globally that included every Swedish resident. Unfortunately, the fact that Swedish identities are organized with the use of a uniform identifier, i.e. YYMMDD-xxxx (YYMMDD = date of birth) makes their personal id much more vulnerable to hacking and fraud than a more random generated id. It is easy for an identity fraudster to work out a Swedish identity number using some simple data mining techniques.

For those of you that want a quick summary of how the Swedish ID number is created… here we go..

1. The personal identity number consists of 10 digits and a hyphen.
2. The first six correspond to the person’s birthday, in YYMMDD form.
3. They are followed by a hyphen.
4. The seventh through ninth are a serial number.
5. An odd ninth number is assigned to males, and an even ninth number is assigned to females.
7. The tenth digit is a checksum which was introduced in 1967 when the system was computerised.

Up to 1990, the seventh and eighth digits were correlated with the county where the bearer of the number was born or (if born before 1947) where he/she had been living, according to tax records, on January 1, 1947, with a special code (usually 9 as 7th digit) for immigrants.

To get the last 4 digits, easiest is to call the Swedish Tax Authority and ask, they are very helpful, since the personal identity number is public information

But what does it really mean to have your identity stolen, or hijacked as more often referred to in Swedish popular press? So here is how a Swedish identity could be stolen starting with a name to find the personal id number:

  1. Google the name of the victim, from here the fraudster will find date of birth (ratsit.sebirthdays.se), home address on a cute map, and other information (hitta.se);
  2. To get the last 4 digits the fraudster can ring up the Swedish Tax Authority direct and ask them, it is after all public information, and they are very helpful.
  3. Now the identity thief can go online and order a fraudulent ID card and/or a fake passport using the stolen personal id number. Hence since the personal number is a vital specific identification number to identify an individual is correct but the photo on the ID card or passport is that of the fraudster.
  4. He/she is ready to go on a spending spree at the victim’s expense! If they have no access to the victim’s credit/debit card, they could buy electronic goods on credit with a small down payment (avbetalning). The victim, get to foot the rest of the bill.
  5. A shop assistant when checking the id card, would feel that the details are correct and process the transaction.

And this is just the beginning of the nightmare for the victim. The fraudster can take out additional loans in their name, buy a car, a house, and default on payments in their name. The victim will be blacklisted by credit companies. Cleaning up this mess will not be easy. It will take a lot of energy and time to clear their name. The victim can forget about trying to get a loan or any type of credit at this time.

I guess after all this excitement that the victim will want to remove their personal information from the public domain? Sorry but there is more bad news. It’s quite impossible! Swedish residents have no legal right to protect their personal identifying information in Sweden. In fact credit reporting agencies have permission from the Data Inspectorate (Datainspektionen) to publish your personal information. They get something called an utgivningsbevis that gives them exemption from Personalupplysningslagen (PuL), that costs a couple of thousand Swedish kronor. On the date of this publication there were 913 companies that have been granted an utgivningsbevis. So in Sweden the Personal Identifying Information (PII) of data subjects is public information. Although the data subjects do have some say over the integrity of PII that is published, this is driven by the Kreditupplysningslagen. The Credit Information Act (Kreditupplysningslagen) are required to make changes in their database to correct faults, but the data subjects have no right to be omitted from the register unless they have a ‘protected identity’. Hence all residents in Sweden who are over the age of 16 are included and public.

All of this is despite the Personal Data Law (PuL) that is here to protect personal information of Swedish residents and citizens. In fact in this context the PuL is impotent. The Swedish codification of the European Union Directive on Data Protection just does not work. The source of the problem is that the Personal Data Act (PuL) does not apply if its application is in contrary to the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (1991).

So what this means is that the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression is being abused by companies making money from the identities of Swedish subjects. It is a Mad Hatters Party for 931 companies abusing this right at the cost of Swedish citizens/residents!

As a Swedish citizen, I have nothing against companies making money from identities so long as:

  1. I’ve given active consent to this;
  2. I have the choice to have it removed;
  3. and if I have permitted my personal information to be used commercially, I should also be a beneficiary from sharing my personal information.

To summarise. If you are a Swedish citizen/resident your personal information is public information and is being exploited commercially. This exploitation makes you vulnerable to identity theft. You have no control over who publishes your personal information.

It is about time this problem was fixed don’t you think?

Further reading

http://www.datainspektionen.se/press/nyheter/2014/datainspektionen-kan-inte-ingripa-mot-sajt-som-hanger-ut-domda/

http://www.riksdagen.se/en/How-the-Riksdag-works/Democracy/The-Constitution/The-Fundamental-Law-on-Freedom-of-Expression/

http://www.radioochtv.se/en/Licensing/Internet/

http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/404038?programid=2778&playchannel=132

If you are Swedish, are you not concerned who maybe using your identity to purchase something online and then pick up your purchase with a false id-card? You should be, di.se is reporting on this, read more here.

Why do I claim that Sweden is easy picking for identity thieves? Look at yesterdays post. If you are a Swedish resident, the first 6 digits of the 10 digits that comprise your personal id number is public domain in Sweden. Doesn’t that make you just a weeny-teeny little bit uncomfortable?