Identity theft is a hot topic. You hear about it on television credit
card commercials, and you hear people talking about it in their every day
The problem is that many people don’t take it seriously and they don’t
take the necessary protective measures.
I have talked with many folks on this subject and the majority say, ”It
won’t happen to me”. I guess I felt that way too, until my sister had it
happen to her. You would have thought that since both my sister and I are
security specialists, we would know better.
It all started when my sister moved from a rented townhouse to a new
place. After the move, one of her credit card companies mailed her a
blank check to use to transfer money. The problem was they sent it to her
old address. The person who was living there took the checks, wrote in a
sum of money, and cashed them at various locations.
My sister spent many days working with the local police, credit
companies, credit bureaus and even the post office (theft of mail is a
federal offence), trying to resolve the problem. Although she didn’t lose
huge amounts of money and her identity wasnt’ compromised, the theft
caused her many lost hours and many sleepless nights wondering what other
mail would go to her former townhouse. She had to cancel all of her
credit and debit cards and place a watch on her credit report to ensure
that it wouldn’t continue.
Here are some helpful tips to avoid identify theft:
Social Security numbers, etc.;
legally required. And don’t have it printed on your checks. For those of
you with driver licenses that routinely use your Social Security number,
check with your DMV to see if they offer another option.
doesn’t have accounts you don’t know about.
The major credit reporting agencies are:
Allen, Texas, 75013-0949 — Telephone: 1-800-397-3742, and
If you have been victimized, file a police report. You will need it when
disputing charges with various creditors. Also remember to write letters
to have erroneous and fraudulent items removed from your credit report.
Stealing mail and papers isn’t the only way to get information. Phishing
is the newest wave in identity theft. This method uses various online
techniques to fool you into providing financial and personal information
to people waiting to take advantage of you.
Phishing uses spam, email or pop-up messages to deceive Internet users
into disclosing credit card numbers, bank account information, Social
Security numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information.
These e-mails appear to come from a legitimate company, usually a
financial institution or credit card issuer, urging you to immediately
reply with personal information so your account is not deactivated.
To increase the chances of people falling for this type of scam, they’ll
even use the company’s logo, colors, and standard disclosure text. The
e-mail usually will contain a link that takes you to a fake site made to
look like the company’s legitimate Web site.
Here are some clues that an email is part of a phishing scam:
e-mails will allude to dire consequences, such as ”your account will be
deactivated if you do not respond within 24 hours…”
The Federal Trade Commision works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and
unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information
to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to
get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov, or call
For more information on identity theft, visit InsideID’s Identity Theft Prevention and Recovery Guide.