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:

Protecting Yourself

Protecting 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.

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Last modified: Sep 18, 2008, 13:21 EDT
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