Just days ago, the Department of Justice made an arrest in what just may be the largest case of alleged identity theft in history. According to news sources, the account details of up to 130 million credit card holders may have been compromised.
It is important to note that, in the right criminal hands, your personal information can be more precious than almost any other of your valued possessions.
Think about this: To unscrupulous thugs, such as identity thieves, your personal information such as your Social Security number, your bank and credit card account numbers, and even your name, address, and phone number can be used to commit fraud.
Identity theft, which occurs when someone rips off your personal data for criminal purposes, is the fastest-growing crime in the United States. These identity thieves steal your personal information to open new credit accounts, order merchandise, and even borrow money, all in your name and without your authorization or knowledge.
Many times, sadly, innocent consumers are not even aware they have been victimized by identity thieves until they are contacted by collection agencies trying to recover debts they did not even know they had.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) encourages folks to make sure their transactions, both online and off, are secure and that personal information is protected.
A Quick Security Tip: Some identity theft authorities suggest you review copies of your credit reports even more frequently than once a year. Use a secure browser when shopping online to help guard the security of your transactions. When submitting your purchase information, look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar to be sure your information is secure during transmission.
These are just some very basic ideas to help make identity theft a bit harder. For more information, log on to www.ftc.gov.
My Final Thoughts: In the high-tech world in which we live, the challenge of safeguarding your personal information is paramount. Identity thieves are just waiting to obtain your personal data for their unlawful use.
Identity theft is a particularly ugly crime. Victims of identity theft may have to spend many hours and hundreds of dollars trying to restore their good names and reputations. These identity thugs are not just stealing something from you; they are, in effect, stealing “you.”
Copyright 2009 by Bruce Mandelblit
Bruce Mandelblit (www.Mandelblit.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com. This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
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