The overwhelming focus the media places on financial identity theft does a great disservice to those who will rely on the information they receive as being accurate when it is not. To say "consumers are not liable for purchases made by thieves" is dead wrong. Consumers don't read the fine print but if they did, they would be aware that The Federal Reserve Board Regulation E, warns us that if we don't notify the financial institution of an unauthorized transaction within 60 days our loss is UNLIMITED! The problem is the overwhelming majority of people who are already victims of identity theft don't know it yet.
Credit cards in our names are being opened by thieves who give an address other than ours. How can we dispute a bill we never got? Given our new pro credit card/anti consumer bankruptcy laws, these debts are not dischargeable to the same extent they used to be. The exclusive focus seems to be on financial identity theft which is only ONE of the FIVE kinds of identity theft.
To ignore 1) Social Security identity theft, 2) Driver's license identity theft, 3) Criminal/character identity theft and 4) Medical identity theft while giving the impression that "the problem is decreasing" is irresponsible because it is so far from the truth to be dangerous given readers may feel the problem of identity theft is now being taken care of and is not a danger they need to plan for. Only one in 700 identity thieves is ever prosecuted. This is the fastest growing white collar crime in the world. In fact the problem is so massive that the government has stepped in by passing some really stringent laws that subject businesses up to $1 million in fines and up to 10 years in jail for the corporate officers who are not in compliance with these tough new laws that are designed to protect client and employee personal information.
From all my investigation I know that the best protection a person can have is a monitoring/restoration service. There are 100s of new services that are now providing CREDIT monitoring. They let you know that your nightmare is about to begin and then wish you luck.
There is only one company that provides monitoring and restoration. I am happy to pay $12.95 a month for my husband and I (not per person but per couple) for the best protection available and it is provided by the biggest and oldest risk management company in the world.
San Diego thought enough of this company to hire them to untangle our pension debacle, the Securities and Exchange Commission thought enough of them to hire them to do the investigative work and receivership of Enron. They were the only company allowed to go under the World Trade Center to remove the gold bullion and during Gulf One when the CIA, FBI and Saudi government could NOT find where Sadam had stolen the Saudi money, they hired this company to get the money back, which they did. Don't think there is nothing to worry about because this won't happen to you or even if you are a target, that there is nothing you can do. Look at where your personal files are kept the next time you go to the Vet, doctor or dentist. Think of the information in those files, our name, address, phone number, social security number, drivers license, credit card info and medical insurance information. If you think disgruntled workers, temps and shady cleaning crews are not stealing your info and selling it to those who would harm you, think again and act to protect yourself.
NEVER let anyone with an Ipod get a charge from your laptop. They are downloading all your passwords on all your websites. Your computer has cookies that keep track of where you go online and what your passwords are. NEVER let anyone you don't know and trust attach any kind of external device into your computer.
The next time you order checks, don't write your first name out, just use your initials. Don't sign the back of your credit card, instead write the words, "Ask for ID" so that no one else can use this card. Ask about how your information is stored when you do business with someone. We all must remain vigilant because this epidemic is not going away any time soon.
The author has been an attorney since 1996 and is also a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist who works with individuals and businesses to protect them from the fastest growing crime in the world, identity theft. Everyone needs a monitoring and restoration service. Act today by signing up to get the protection you deserve. http://www.idtheftspecialist.info