Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Venture to Stop Identity Theft

Vinny Lingham, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who sold his virtual gift card service Gyft for over US$50 million in 2014, has launched a new venture designed to stop identity theft. The new start-up is called Civic, and with it, Lingham hopes to disrupt the online security industry. Because of the constant threat of hackers stealing sensitive information, the cyber security industry has grown into a huge business sector, and it grows by scaring people, he believes. And despite fostering the fear that keeps them in business, the companies create identity protection products that don’t work, Lingh

Usually, an identity theft victim may not know when false accounts have been created using their stolen information. Lingham has designed Civic to notify customers through their mobile phones when an account is given the customer’s identity data. Using Civic, the provider connects with the company, notifies it of an account opening, which then pings the consumer on the phone so that he/she could give approval if it was a legitimate account or know that something bad is happening if it isn’t.

Customers are not charged for the service, which is paid by the business. Businesses generally lose money when fake accounts are opened and used, so the Civic service works to lower their fraud costs, said Lingham.

The service is expected to resonate with consumers in Lingham’s native South Africa, as identity thefts are increasing in number in that country. In 2014, it was estimated that local South African firms lost R1 billion in fraud to which identity theft was a significant contribution.

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