It can rob you of your time, your assets, and your reputation. Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information such as your name, social security number, birth certificate, or credit card information to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes today!
How do these criminals steal your identity? What do they do with it? How can you find out if your identity was stolen? All of these questions are answered best by Federal Trade Commission, which can be linked here:
This is also where you can file a complaint if your identity has been stolen. It is still important for you to contact your local police department and file a report with them as well.
College students are particularly vulnerable. For tips on how to protect yourself or your college student against Identity Theft, click here.
I am also providing a download from the FTC on tips for the consumer to protect against Identity Theft. Click on the following link to download their information: Identity Theft Protection
In “The Police Chief” (July 2008), an article addressed the use of Social Security numbers and birth certificates as means to identity theft and counterfeit documents. Schools, businesses, and government agencies often request SSNs for many reasons that are not necessarily supported by law.
While a convenient way to track students, patients, and other information, the personal information is not usually protected efficiently. Records can be lost, stolen, or sold to identity theft rings that use this information to compile and sell entire identities! These fraudulent documents can then be used to obtain valid state identification documents in order to avoid detection by law enforcement agencies.
Since oftentimes these documents legally belong to minors, they can go for years without realizing their identities have been stolen! The number of identity theft victims under the age of 18 continues to rise.
What can you do as an employer?
Verify workers and oppose the hiring of unauthorized people. The Department of Homeland Security has made this simple by implementing a program called E-Verify.
From their site: “E-Verify (formerly the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program) is an online system operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Participating employers can check the work status of new hires online by comparing information from an employee’s I-9 form against SSA and Department of Homeland Security databases. More than 69,000 employers are enrolled in the program, with over 4 million queries run so far in fiscal year 2008.
E-Verify is free and voluntary, and is the best means available for determining employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers.
E-Verify is a voluntary program for all employers, with very limited exceptions. Companies can access E-Verify online and compare an employee’s Form I-9 information with over 444 million records in the SSA database, and more than 60 million records in Department of Homeland Security immigration databases.
E-Verify is an essential tool for employers committed to maintaining a legal workforce, and the number of registered employers is growing by over 1,000 per week.”
What can you do as a school?
Use alternate methods for tracking students. Use alternate methods for verification of DOB other than requiring copies of birth certificates to be kept on file. Keep all files in a double-locked storage facility, such as a locked safe in a locked office.
What can you do as a citizen?
People need to refrain from giving out personal information such as SSNs, account numbers, and credit card information unless they are confident of the source. It is a good practice to not let your debit or credit card leave your hands. Use cash when going to a restaurant or other places that typically require a person to walk off with your card.