Identity Theft and You
The U.S Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that 9 million Americans were the victims of identity theft in 2007, which resulted in consumers losing $1.1 billion. The FTC defines identity theft as the use of your personal identifiable information without your permission to commit fraud. Anyone using your personal information without your permission is committing identity theft.
The proliferation of information on the Internet has led to more varied schemes of identity theft but at the heart of each is an attempt to get you to provide personal information to unknown sources. WPI Information Security recommends the following:
- Do not respond to emails that ask for personal information such as passwords, account numbers, or personal identification numbers (PINs). Financial institutions never ask for this information - they already have it. If you are unsure about a message, you should use another form of media - your phone, the mail, a personal visit, etc. - to verify the request. Delete these messages as soon as possible.
- Keep your operating system, firewall, antivirus, and antispyware software up- to- date on your computer.
- Do not carry your Social Security card with you unless it is needed.
- Keep your pocketbook or wallet in a secure place while at work.
- Shred. Identity thieves look in the trash for little pieces of information. If you shred it, they will have nothing to work with.
- Request and review your credit reports annually.
- If your personal identification, credit cards or bank cards are stolen, file a police report immediately.
Protecting YourselfProtecting your personal information is the first step that all consumers can take. Shredding documents that contain your name, address, account numbers, Social Security number, date of birth or any other personal identifiers is a necessary step. Also, all consumers should watch their mail for indicators that someone is using their name. Such things as credit cards showing up that weren’t applied for, statements from banks and financial services that do not arrive, or getting calls and letters from collection agencies that reference unknown debts are indicators that someone is using your name to commit fraud. Victims are generally made aware that their identity has been stolen only when a collection agency communicates with them or some other agency confronts them with information they were unaware of. Individuals have been arrested, sued, and denied credit as a result of identity theft. Maintained by itweb
Last modified: Sep 18, 2008, 13:21 EDT