Some Precautions: Identity Thieves Combine Offline and Online Options

By: The Internet Safety Advocate

Two out of five identity theft victims surveyed by the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting identity theft through victim assistance, research and law enforcement partnerships) know how their personal data was stolen. This knowledge provides valuable insight about how identity theft occurs.

When ITAC surveyed 275 identity theft victims who used the ITAC's free service over a one-month period, 160 consumers (58%) did not know the source of their identity theft while the other 115 consumers (42%) did know how their information was compromised. These 115 consumers attributed their identity theft to the following sources:

* Friends, relatives, in-home employees - 26 cases, or 22.61%
* Computer hacker/virus/phishing - 25 cases, or 21.74%
* Mail (stolen or fraudulent address change) - 24 cases, or 20.87%
* Lost/stolen wallet, checkbook or credit card - 15 cases, or 13.04%
* Corrupt business or employee - 12 cases, or 10.43%
* Data breach - 8 cases, or 6.96%
* House burglarized - 4 cases, or 3.48%
* Instant credit - 1 case, or 0.87%

Getting accurate information about the sources of identity theft is difficult because identity theft - the opening of a fraudulent new account or account takeover - is often confused with other types of fraud, like the unauthorized use of a credit card.

Nevertheless, it is up to each of us to be on guard against the possibility that our documents, or worst yet, our computers, could be compromised. Sometimes it may seem like a losing battle, but they are some steps we can take to prevent becoming the next victim. Here are some precautions:

* Do not keep your Social Security card in your wallet.

* If your Social Security number is on your driver's license, remove it. (In some states it is now illegal for a driver's license to be issued with a Social Security number.)

* When shredding important papers, make sure you use a cross-cut. "If it is shredded in strips and not cross-cut, I can put it down right in front of me and put it back together and there you have it," says "John", who uses his skills as a computer defense specialist to protect you, and is skilled in the ways of hackers and thieves and can ruin your credit and your life.

* "Don't use wireless for anything that you would not want put in a public newspaper. Though it's a nice convenience, your information is basically floating in mid-air. I could be two blocks away with a high-powered antenna picking up his information."

* The key is defense in depth or layers: Anti-virus, computer patches, and firewalls, and most importantly, updating them once a week. There are types of protection for wireless but they can be hacked in as little as twenty minutes.

Because cybercriminals are becoming smarter and more sophisticated in their operations, they are real threats to your personal security and privacy. Your money, your computer, your family, and your business are all at risk.

To protect yourself, you need an Internet security team of experts making sure that you, your family, and your business computer are always safe and secure. The best protection you can have in today's rapidly changing world of cyber-attacks is to have expert support for all your Internet security needs that will provide technical support without any hassles and without charging you extra fees. It will become even more critical than it is today as time goes on. You need to find your own personal team of experts to rely on. If you ever have a security problem, you will want to have a trusted expert you can call for professional help, without any hassles and extra costs!

These cybercriminals leave you with three choices :

1. Do nothing and hope their attacks, risks, and threats donít occur on your computer.

2. Do research and get training to protect yourself, your family, and your business.

3. Get professional help to lockdown your system from all their attacks, risks, and threats.

Remember: When you say "No!" to hackers and spyware, everyone wins! When you don't, we all lose!

© MMVII, Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, The Internet Safety Advocate and Educator

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Etienne A. Gibbs, Independent Internet Security Advocate and Educator
, consults with individuals, small business owners, and home-business entrepreneurs regarding online protection (including free lifetime technical support and $25,000 identity theft insurance and recovery) against spyware, viruses, malware, hackers, and other pc-disabling cybercrimes. For more information, visit

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