In an economy that runs increasingly on the instantaneous flow of information and credit — aggressively promoted by banks and credit card companies despite the risks — Phoenix and its surrounding area provide a window on one of the system’s unintended consequences.
[…] [T]he real problem, many officials and consumer advocates say, lies elsewhere. In recent years banks have campaigned energetically to extend more credit to more people with fewer hassles, and retailers and consumers have embraced instant, near-anonymous access to credit.
Last year a group of prosecutors, law enforcement officers and security executives from banks and credit card associations met to discuss ways of curbing identity theft. The group had plenty of ideas, including PIN numbers or fingerprint verification for all credit card purchases and a ban on mailings that include blank checks.
But all ran counter to the promotional campaigns of banks and, banks say, to the desires of consumers.