Identity Theft: The New Epidemic

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In the year 2005, there were 151 significant identity breaches throughout the United States affecting more than 57.7 million consumers. Approximately half of those breaches occurred at educational institutes where hackers used the school’s computer network to access personal information.

In the year 2005, there were 151 significant identity breaches throughout the United States affecting more than 57.7 million consumers. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), approximately half of those breaches occurred at educational institutes where hackers used the school’s computer network to access personal information such as student names, addresses, social security numbers and etc.

A high percentage of identity breaches also occurred in banking, financial and credit card institutions. The rest of the identity breaches were attributed to various governmental agencies, health care facilities/companies and other general businesses.    

According to security analysts, these identity thieves are most likely to sell these stolen identities on underground web sites. Cyber crooks can also use stolen credit card information to purchase high priced goods online, such as Plasma TV’s, computers and other hi-tech electronics which have high resale values.

To avoid being a victim of identity theft you should regularly check your credit report for any unusual account activity. TransUnion, which is one of the three major credit bureaus encourages consumers to check their credit reports once every 3 months, if not sooner. If you suspect any unusual activity in your credit report or think that you may have become a victim of identity theft, the first step should be to immediately place a fraud alert on your credit report. You can place a fraud alert by contacting any one of the credit reporting agencies listed below.

Experian

(888) 397-3742

Equifax

(800) 525-6285

TransUnion

(800) 680-7289

Once you have placed the fraud alert, you should close the tampered accounts to reduce any further damage. The victim should then file an official police report in the community where the identity theft took place. Ensure that you keep a copy in case your creditors need proof of the crime. The final step should be to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

To learn more about identity theft please click on the following links.

Complete Guide to Identity Theft - http://www.creditguard.org/Identity_Theft.pdf
Identity Theft and Phishing - http://www.creditguard.org/press_release_3.html.

  • Identity Theft Resource Center Home Page. July 2006. Retrieved from

http://www.idtheftcenter.org/breaches.shtml

CreditGUARD of America is a non-profit credit counseling agency that assists consumers through debt counseling and financial education. Please visit our web site at http://www.creditguard.org or call 1-800-867-0406 for a free consultation with a certified credit counselor.

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Nemal Perera
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