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The Wall Street Journal Complete Identity Theft Guidebook (Book Review)

Recently, I read "The Wall Street Journal Complete Identity Theft Guidebook: How to protect yourself from the most pervasive crime in America" by Terri Cullen. I found the book to be an easy read and appropriate for consumers who know nothing about identity theft and consumers who know a little about identity theft.

Cullen has organized the material into two broad sections:

  1. Preventing Identity theft
  2. Life After Identity Theft

The first section is packed full of tips about how consumers can protect themselves. Cullen weaves into the text both explanations of important terms and actual stories of consumers who were identity-theft victims. The second section is targeted for consumers who are identity theft victims. It provides practical and usable advice about what to do given your specific situation.  This makes it easy for readers to find the information relevant to their specific situation.

Based on the book's content, Cullen wrote most or all of it in 2006. Much has changed since. For example, I found the book a little weak on Security Breaches. While Cullen explains very well the functions (and biases) of the national credit bureaus, Cullen should provided a better explanation of the differences between a Fraud Alert and a Security Freeze. Yes this is difficult since state laws are changing quickly, but it is critical information for consumers.

Cullen has provided several sample letters (mostly snail-mail) for dealing with identity theft. These letters are mostly identity theft victims who must correspond with banks, credit card issuers, lenders, collection agencies, and credit bureaus. The book includes these letters in print format. A better presentation would  have been  a CD with the sample letters in electronic format.

You can buy Cullen's book locally at many booksellers, or online at Amazon.com.and at BarnesandNoble.com. As you'd probably expect, there's an article excerpt of the book at the Wall Street Journal web site.

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