Time to Abolish the Identity Tax
April 18, 2016

Tax Day is April 15 in the United States, and April 30 in Canada. So while we all navigate our own tax reality, many of us will file online which brings to bear another tax we all face – the identity tax. As people file their taxes, odds are they don’t remember their user IDs and passwords to access last year’s returns. Yet another set of credentials that are high-value yet seldom used, requiring the hoops of identity verification and password resets!

The facts around time and money wasted because of the password proliferation problem is well documented for individuals and companies alike:

  • 59% of consumers reuse passwords because it’s too hard to remember multiple, complex strings, yet 63% of us still rely on memory (or a post-it note). It’s not that consumers don’t care about security; password reuse is just a coping mechanism to make online life easier.
  • In 2012, the average cost of recovering an identity was upwards of $20,000. But even this is hard to pin down, there is no test for positive proof of a fix for identity theft.
  • The average consolidated total cost of a data breach in 2015 was $3.8 million, representing a 23% increase since 2013. The costs and risks of managing personal information continue to climb for organizations.
  • The number of hacking incidents in 2015 reached a nine-year high of 37.9%. It’ll get worse before it gets better, unfortunately.

This tax season shows a solution to this identity issue in the example of what the Government of Canada is doing with SecureKey Concierge, which lets citizens use their trusted bank log-in credentials to connect with Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency and over 80 Canadian e-gov services – without creating yet another user ID and password! Millions of Canadians are experiencing this ease of access of the services they need – with the log-in credentials they’ll remember. SecureKey Concierge’s world-leading triple-blind privacy technology is used to respect users’ privacy when accessing federal e-gov services, or other online services as they become available with SecureKey Concierge Service. 99% of the adult population in Canada has a bank account, with the average being 2.1 banking relationships. The large banks in Canada are all part of the SecureKey Concierge service, and more continue to join the service over time, providing citizens the choice and freedom to connect with government services through whatever bank they choose and use.

What the Government of Canada is doing in conjunction with the country’s largest banking institutions serves as a leadership beacon for online access hope in an ocean of password resets, weak consumer password security practices and skyrocketing helpdesk costs for companies and service providers. The same can be done in any country, with the right combination of trusted credential providers (e.g., banking institutions, carriers or state governments) and service providers, governments or corporations (who all would rather not manage user identities anyway!).

While we all work to file our returns this tax season, it’s high-time we find a solution to abolish that identity tax that afflicts individuals and companies alike. Here are three steps towards a better identity future:

  1. If you live in Canada and haven’t already, start using SecureKey Concierge in Canada, to access more services online. In the US, Connect.Gov is the way to go to simplify access to federal services online.
  2. Minimize your personal burden for other sites by subscribing to one of the better password manager services, like Dashlane or LastPass. Be sure to enable 2-step verification so only you can get in to the account. Eventually, fewer sites will issue passwords reducing the need for services like this, but in the meantime this is a good way to go. On balance, this has a lower risk/hassle quotient than the alternatives, like spreadsheets, cheat-sheets, or remembering passwords in browsers.
  3. Most people do this already, but remember to use additional care and rigour in managing your financial passwords. They are the most valuable and coveted password by identity thieves.

Those are three easy steps to minimize your identity tax burden. Regardless of political affiliation or country of origin, it’s time for technology, business and governments to come together to take that important next step to combine security and convenience to abolish the identity tax in this interconnected era.