Identity theft is on the rise

Identity theft is on the rise at an alarming rate

Abingdon VA. (rushprnews) 03/14/2007 – In 2006 there was a total of $56.6 billion loss that was attributed to identity theft. It has been reported that 90% of the compromises had occurred offline. It was also determined that a vast majority of the thefts had been carried out by someone close to the victim, either by a friend or family member.

Online thefts are said to cost Americans $265 million a year. While that isn’t pocket change, it is hardly a drop in the bucket compared to the overall loss associated with the problem of identity theft.

Those statistics are truly contradictory to what most people believe. I have heard many individuals comment that they would never shop or bank online due to the fear of them becoming a victim of identity theft. It is clear that these individuals are either being misinformed about identity theft or they simply do not understand what is behind the increase. They are 10 times more likely to have their identity stolen by a friend or family member than by shopping or banking online.

As our personal identities increase in value daily, so does the number of cases. What are some of the most popular ways of stealing someone’s identity?

1. Dumpster diving – stealing mail or rummaging through rubbish
2. Shoulder surfing – eavesdropping on public transactions to obtain personal data
3. Phishing – impersonating a trusted organization in an electronic communication
4. Spam – Some, if not all spam requires you to respond to alleged contests, enter into “Good Deals”, etc.

Now that you have the bad news, let’s get to the good news. There are actions you can take that will make it harder for your identity to be stolen. Here are some simple techniques that you can use everyday to help protect your identity.

1. Never release your Social Security Number. Very rarely is it used now to identify you as an individual.
2. Shred all sensitive documents including any credit card or special offers you receive in the mail. Data backups and/or old computers should have all the information deleted from them before throwing them out or donating them.
3. Update your virus and firewall programs on your computer(s). Scan for intrusions weekly.
4. Review your bank and credit card statements monthly for unauthorized purchases. If you use online banking you can even review these statements weekly and set up alerts that can be emailed to you whenever suspicious activity has occurred.
5. Opt out of the big three credit reporting agencies marketing program. Ever wonder why you get so many of those credit card offers?
6. Use a strong password and change it on a regular basis.

The most important thing you should remember is that a person spends 100s of hours trying to clear their name and their reputation when they have become a victim of identity theft. Be proactive and protect yourself ahead of time instead of reactive, otherwise it could cost you.

About eTechSecurity:

eTechSecurity (eTSP) is a full service Information Technology Security business providing clients with extensive expertise and experience in Information Security. Their primary focus is on IT security consulting, IT security auditing, and IT related regulatory compliance assessments. Their clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small non- profits. They are active participants in NCHICA – (North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance), NHIN – (National Health Information Network), HISPC – (Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration), and AHIC – (American Health Information Community).

For more information please contact:
Craig Belcher

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