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Friday, February 15, 2008


How often have you had a conversation with someone who made a skeptical statement followed by: “if you don’t believe me, ask so and so?” Well, if you have been somewhat dubious over my exclamations of what can happen to you in a case of identity theft, at least check this Federal Trade Commission site that documents how bad the problem was in 2007. Out of 813,899 fraud complaints to the FTC, 258,427, or 32 percent, were related to ID theft. Heisting your credit card number was the top method used at 23 percent, utilities fraud, 18 percent, and employment fraud, 13 percent. The total lost in 2007 was $1.2 billion, which breaks down to a median out-of-pocket loss to the victim of $349. The FTC received just under 140,000 more fraud complaints in 2007 over 2006. Statistics may be boring to most of us, but it is hard to overlook the kinds of numbers revealed by this latest FTC report on identity theft. You can see the complete 92 page report here. It contains all kinds of goodies like percentages of victims by age: 28% are between 18 and 19, followed by 23% 30 to 39, 19% 40 to 49, 13% 50 to 59, and 10% 60+. Los Angeles had the most complaints, followed by the Miami area, then Phoenix. Arizona is the top state for victims per 100,000 population. On page 13 of the report there is an array of methods of how the bad guys stole identities, from credit card fraud to Government documents or benefits fraud. They don’t miss much, and if you follow this blog regularly, you know they come up with new schemes on a frighteningly regular basis. The identity crisis is out of control, and, unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any chance its progress will be curbed any time soon by either business or government, both of which are the source of the problem. With the economy on a downward spiral, the U.S. Congress has put this issue on the back burner…way back. But the crooks are taking advantage of this situation, and stepping up their fraudulent activities. States are passing data breach notification bills—40 to date—but that is only a band-aid, an after effect. The damage is already done by then, and if you are one of the victims you could be on the road to financial ruin. There is a way. Would you be willing to take over the responsibility of your name and personal data, deciding where it may be used or sold? If the answer is no, read no further. If it is yes, join me in my grass-roots movement to give consumers control over their names and private information. Let me hear from you.

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