ID theft is a huge problem these days and something about which everyone needs to be concerned. In the last couple of days I’ve just run into several interesting articles that I thought might get you thinking about the problem.
The first article demonstrates that everyone is at risk, including wealthy and powerful, to ID theft. In this case, someone tried to steal the identity of Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft:
The second article outlines how ID thieves are targeting children because their slates are clean and their credit records are often not monitored or checked for years. The article cites one instance were an ID was stolen when the child was only 4 years old but the theft wasn’t discovered until she was 19 and trying to get her own apartment. I have to admit that I wouldn’t have thought this would be a problem but I’m now going to be watching more closely to try to save my daughter a big headache down the road.
Lastly, I stumbled across an older but still relevant pair of articles on things that an identity thief won’t tell you. Pay particular attention to how they make use of your mailbox, your trash, and unusual looking devices attached to the ATM. If you haven’t done so already, you should consider buying a shredder and a locked mailbox. You also want to commit PIN codes to memory, rather than writing them on slips of paper that you keep in your wallet or purse.
Update March 28, 2012
These two articles suggest that the credit bureaus themselves may not be your best friend when it comes to ID theft. The first one points out how the bureaus try to sell services rather than actually help someone who’s ID has been stolen.
This one shows how “Websites that offer consumers a chance to see their credit reports are being brazenly used by hackers to steal victims’ information.” The hackers are able to get the information by taking advantage of relatively lax security questions and protocols.
If you’re not already doing so you probably want to check your credit report once a year. You can get one free credit report per year by going to this site:
After you enter some basic information you can select a report from one of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). I did this myself this morning. As the Red Tape article indicates the security questions were definitely weak. Most of the information I found in my report was accurate but I did have to file a dispute with an old address they had on file. The dispute process was easy but takes up to 45 days.
If you are concerned about ID theft you may also want to visit our Security Check List to find other ways to make your digital life more secure.