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From the Editor

Unfortunately, with the advent of new technologies, comes the advent of ways that people can use these technologies to commit crimes. To everyone's amazement, we are hearing about more and more ways that criminals can digitally dip into your wallet. One such way is "identity theft."

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. This information is sometimes gathered using physical, hard copies, such as checks, statements and IDs, but thieves can also garner this information digitally. For instance, in January hackers gained access to many of the University of Georgia's admissions records that held applicant's personal information, which could possibly be used in criminal ways. The Federal Trade Commission states that the number of identity theft complaints skyrocketed from 1,380 in 1999 to 161,819 in 2002, and is only expected to continue to grow considerably in the coming years.

The idea of one person or group taking the identifying characteristics of another person or group reaches far beyond the modern definition, though. The masonry industry has been subjected to years of identity theft, although we've never gone so far as to call it that.

Take the example of pressed board siding, which had "stolen" masonry's long-standing identification of durability and long life expectancy as its own. Therefore, in the last two decades, when many consumers wanted to buy a long-lasting and durable building material, they thought of pressed board siding instead of masonry. Twenty years later, and one failure after another, most of the manufacturers of these composite products have faced class action lawsuits for their fraudulent claims.

This all may sound far-fetched or absurd, but take a moment and think about the financial loss that the masonry industry has incurred due to this theft of identity. Now think about all of the other building systems that have twisted the truth and taken masonry's characteristics as their own. What would the loss in sales due to identity theft for all of these instances add up to... hundreds, thousands, millions?

What can you do to help combat this form of identity theft? One way to get the word out that masonry is the dependable, long-lasting product is by creating a web site.

This month we have a column by MCAA's Manager of Website Development, Timothy O'Toole, who discusses an easy way to get your company on the web (see pg. 48). Completing a web design for your company and taking a stand for your industry is easier than you think, and MCAA offers one of the ways in which to do it.

Establish your presence on the Internet, while also establishing masonry as the premier building system.



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