TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Is Your Identity Safe?

Is Your Identity Safe?

Marcus Didius Falco (
Fri, 25 Feb 2005 01:01:01 -0500

How many times have you been asked for your personal financial
information and you gave it up without protest?

And how much information do you carry around in your wallet or purse
that could be used by someone to steal your identity? For instance, do
you routinely carry your checkbook? How about a stack of bills that
need paying? Or your Social Security card?

Any one of those items is treasured by identity thieves. And if you've
been following the news lately, you should be very concerned about
identity theft.

Last week, <>ChoicePoint
Inc<>. of Alpharetta, Ga., informed more than
100,000 people that their information was sold by the company to con

ID Data Conned From Firm" from last Friday's Post. Among the potential
victims of this particular scam are thousands of Washington area
residents, according to this follow-up story from Monday's Post -->
ID Theft Scam Hits D.C. Area Residents."

The conning of ChoicePoint is stunning. This is a very sophisticated
company that provides data services to many of the nation's top
financial entities, and even the federal government.
Read this profile of the company by The Post's Robert O'Harrow.

But ChoicePoint delivered thousands of electronic reports containing
names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other personal financial
information to criminals in the Los Angeles area who were posing as
officials in legitimate debt collection, insurance and check-cashing
businesses. In case you don't know, ChoicePoint maintains the CLUE
(Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) database used by insurers
to check the five-year claims history of both a homeowner and a particular

As scary as the ChoicePoint story is, I want to remind you that your
identity is more likely to be stolen by someone you know. Read my
column from Feb. 13 --
"When ID Theft Starts at Home."

According to the 2005 Identity Fraud Survey Report -- released by the
Better Business Bureau and Javelin as an update of the Federal Trade
Commission's 2003 Identity Theft Survey -- relatives, friends and
neighbors make up half of all known identity thieves.

So what should you do if you find out your information may be in the
hands of a con artist? Check out Caroline E. Mayer's article from
yesterday's Post --

Victims Have Work Ahead: Eternal Vigilance Is Price of Credit."

Also, read this column I wrote back in 2002 -->
With Identity Theft, It Pays to Be Paranoid," and here's the FTC's comprehensive ID theft
resources page.

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