Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida
This is a fairly short article, but it is packed with useful information related to identity theft. Janet Rubenking provides some recommended steps to avoid identify theft and a list of web sites to help you recover when someone steals your identity.
1. Don't provide your social security number to anyone unless it is absolutely necessary.
2. Don't carry your social security card.
3. Don't carry your credit cards and checkbook unless you plan to use them.
4. Review your credit report, and close accounts you don't use or need.
5. Consider using credit agencies' periodic credit watches.
6. Photocopy everything in your wallet, front and back and keep the copies in a secure place.
7. Sign you new credit cards immediately.
8. Get a locking mailbox or, post office box, or retrieve your mail immediately after delivery.
9. Never leave outgoing mail in your unprotected mail box.
10. Don't put your driver's license number or social security number on your checks.
11. Consider using only the initials of your first and middle name on your checks.
12. Pick up your new checks in person rather than having them mailed.
13. During transactions, watch the person you give your credit card to. Don't let them take your card out of your sight.
14. If you use your credit cards on-line, go to the retailer's site rather than following an e-mail link.
15. Avoid following e-mail links. Phishing (carding or brand spoofing) is a scam where an e-mail appears to be from a known organization indicating problems with your account information. Just click on the link, it says, to provide some personal info and answer a few questions. However, the link is to a temporary site controlled by the ID thieves.
16. When buying on line, look for the Secure Sockets Layer, i.e., URLs with an "s" (https) where the "s" means secure.
17. Don't throw documents away that contain any personal information. Shred them first.
18. Keep credit card receipts and compare them to your monthly statements or to your account on-line.
Some organizations that can help if your identity is stolen?
Identify Theft Resource Center - www.idtheftcenter.org
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse - www.privacyrights.org
Social security Administration - www.ssa.gov
U.S. Department of Justice Identity Theft and Fraud Information - http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/
Related articles on identify theft:
Brody, R. G. 2011. The new victims of identity theft: Children. Journal of Forensic & Investigative Accounting 3(2): 150-161.
Henry, K. R. and R. M. Lee. 2010. Are you really someone else? Determining the credibility of identity documents. Journal of Forensic & Investigative Accounting 2(3): 164-190.