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Thread: Preventing my identity from being stolen

  1. #1

    Default Preventing my identity from being stolen

    Last year, my college goofed up, and somehow the bursar's office managed to post a spreadsheet containing many students' names, social security numbers, and account information on a public domain of the school website. They don't have any IP address logs, so there's no telling who had accessed the website. That was scary.

    Today, I wanted to sign up for electric service for my new apartment, but they want my social security number for that. So I have to call the manager tomorrow and heckle with him until I get him to accept just my driver's license number instead.

    It seems that everyone wants your social security number these days. I learned that the DMV can require your SSN, but you don't have to give it to other companies such as your cell phone company, utility company, etc. They will try to force you to give them your SSN, but if you heckle with them enough, they'll just accept your driver's license instead. I also ask landlords and such to shred and delete all records with my SSN on it after they finish their background checks.

    Today I read that every year, 8 million Americans have their identities stolen, and this prompted me to sign up for LifeLock. It's a service that monitors your credit and does damage control. If your SSN is stolen, it prevents anyone from using it to get credit in your name. That sounded like a great program, so I signed up for a whole year of coverage.

    I just wanted to know if anyone else had any similar stories or experiences they'd like to share about identity theft.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    Yes and No. It was credit card fraud.
    I know the company responsible - But nothing ever was done.
    I got all my money back via my Bank.

    When I noticed, the Bank had already put a flag on my card. I had tried using it and it was declined. I went home and checked online. It had been used for several online purchases (including Muslim Aid). When I phoned the Bank, they were very helpfull - and explained they had flaged my card because the activity on it was unusual. I think it totalled about £200

    This kind of thing is everywhere and a real problem. But don't loose sleep over it. The world is full of loosers that just sap other hard working people. Two fingers to them.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    In Canada, unless you're a bank or employer or someone else similarly mandated to report income, it's more or less illegal to demand SIN (our version of SSN) information form individuals. Though everyone and their uncle will still try. Up until our federal privacy regulations kicked in, there were video stores, etc. that even "requested" it as part of a membership agreement.

    Protecting your information is important, but having said that, I think that the agencies that charge a fee are convenient, but offer nothing that consumers can't do on their own. The credit agencies (both in Canada and the US) were mandated to lower the barrier for consumer to access their information, and prohibited from charging for it. They get around this by creating services for online credit file access, or credit monitoring, but it's nothing that you couldn't do on your own. You can access your credit information, and you can have notes placed on your file requesting verification or notification of credit requests (ie. for a new credit card or some such thing). The paid services simplify the process, but they're only doing what you can do yourself. In fact, they can't do anything you can't do yourself. Certainly there's value there, but don't assume that they're offering a higher level of protection.

    The best thing you can do is simply be cautious about how you transact your business. Try to use official bank ATM machines, instead of third-party kiosks, if you can, and always cover the keypad when entering your PIN (cameras are often used to capture PIN numbers). When you use your credit card, watch for people that are potentially "double-swiping". Often times people that are stealing credit card info will have a hidden device that they run the card through, under the counter or some such thing. Take a look at the receipt they give you, and make sure that it doesn't display anthing more than the last four digits of your credit card number; if it does, you're dealing with a merchant that is not PCI compliant and is in violation of the terms for the credit card companies. You're far more likely to be a victim of fraud against your existing cards, than you are to have fraudulent cards opened against you. The credit companies are becoming more diligent now, in their handing out of credit. An SSN and birthdate isn't necessarily enough any more, although it can still cause grief in the wrong hands.

    Crime is so strife nowadays for credit card/bank fraud (since it's a "victimless" crime with lesser penalties), that the bad guys are getting organized and intelligent. It's very much like browsing the web. Be vigilant of where you are conducting business, and keep an eye out for suspicious things.

    My wife is actually a PCI consultant, and works with credit card merchants to help bring them to compliance with PCI requirements. I've heard nightmare stories about the way personal/credit info is handled by some merchants, even large, brand-name ones. So as I said, vigilance is your best defense, although ironically, she recently had her bank card defrauded herself, despite knowing the measures to take.

    Just be smart about how you're presenting your information (whether SSN/SIN, credit card, whatever), and beyond that, don't lose sleep over it, because there's only so much you can do.

    Just my 2c...

    Cheers,
    KV

  4. #4

    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    Good advice :-) I'll try not to lose any sleep over it. Although I did get the electric service hooked up first thing this morning, without giving out my SSN. I had to jump through a few hoops, but eventually they used a password for me instead.

    I agree that it's all too easy for someone to steal your identity these days. A hundred years ago, the only way you could get robbed was if some outlaw held up the stagecoach you were riding in or robbed your house. Now they can rob you without ever meeting you.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    This site has some good information for US citizens on who you need to
    provide a SSN to: http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs10-ssn.htm

    The two sections to look under are titled:

    "Am I required to give my Social Security number to government agencies? "
    and
    "Must I give my Social Security number to private businesses? "


  6. #6

    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    Yep, I read that one. I think the advice given there is good. There's an even better way of protecting ourselves from identity theft, but it would require that the government take action, and that's probably not going to happen since the government is so slow at doing things. If they gave everyone separate numbers for utilities, billing, tax paying, etc, then everything wouldn't be tied to just one single number, and that would mean that a thief getting hold of one of your numbers wouldn't wreak havoc. We wouldn't have all the eggs in one basket.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    I've set up a account, just for online. There is basically no money in it. I just dump some in when I need it. It has no facility to go overdrawn. Thought it was a little safer.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    That's a good idea. The trouble for us US residents is, if someone gets your social security number, they can open up new accounts using your ID, and then you have to pay back the bills after they buy stuff on those accounts.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    BNG22908 wrote:
    > That's a good idea. The trouble for us US residents is, if someone gets
    > your social security number, they can open up new accounts using your
    > ID, and then you have to pay back the bills after they buy stuff on
    > those accounts.
    >
    >

    That is why you have to go with banks and credit card companies that
    have better policies when it comes to identity theft such as what
    American Express has.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Preventing my identity from being stolen

    I have a house in fl. and a US bank account.
    My bank had to assign me with some kind of fake/temp SSN to set me up. The Bank at the time was South Trust - Now absorbed in to Wachovia.
    Also have a US drivers licence, but that has to be renewed each time I go back to US now - Pain in *ss.
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