I enjoy reading the Time Goes By blog written by Ronnie Bennett. She offers much practical advice and interesting perspectives about "what it's really like to get older." Recently, Ronnie wrote about identity theft:
"According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, ID theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., and in some other countries too. During just the first six months of 2007, in the United States alone, the Center has tracked 187 corporate security breaches [pdf] involving the exposure of 64,940,727 records of personal information."
There's no positive spin to this bad news. It is what it is. A huge problem. That's a lot of identities at risk and some have already been abused. Ronnie also wrote:
"The types of organizations from which this information was exposed or stolen will surprise you. Universities are at the top of list along with medical organizations. Others include JP Morgan Chase, IHOP, AOL, IBM, Turbo Tax, Radio Shack, Xerox and a number of federal and local government agencies including FEMA."
"Although other identifying numbers – credit or debit card numbers, drivers licenses, etc. - can lead thieves to steal your identity, Social Security numbers are the prize with which thieves can loot bank accounts, take out loans in your name, open credit card accounts, access your tax records, and use your identity when arrested by the police."
And most importantly:
"Remember that only certain government agencies, employers and organizations that are required to report financial transactions to the government, can legitimately require your Social Security number, so don't give it out to anyone else. Retailers, such as the company from which I tried to buy a sweater, cannot and should not ask for that number. I have stopped using one credit card because the issuing bank requires my Social Security number for identification with them."
Last, I'd like to wish I've Been Mugged readers an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend. I am going to do the same.
Next entry: How Safe Is Your Credit Card Company?