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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Identity Theft Overblown?

According to a recent report , identity theft is under control and contained. Is this really the case? Should we believe what they say? Here's a well written article over at Arstechnica that analyses and digests this report.

Given all the conflicting information, I really don't know who to believe. However, what I do know is that it is important to be smart and prudent when dealing with my own personal information. Off the top of the head, these are some of the things I do to prevent identity theft happening to me:

1) I bought a shredder. All my old receipts, statements, and even junk credit card offers are now shredded. I've had my credit card number, name, and expiration date printed on some of my receipts before and shredding them before I throw them away makes sense.

2) I use a nick name (instead of my real name) and a bogus birth date when I deal with borderline trustworthy sites that ask for this information. This way, if I was expecting any mail it would still arrive in my mailbox.

3) I get a free credit report from Annualcreditreport.com every 4 months to make sure nothing funny shows up. Since you are allowed one credit report from each of the three companies, I space them out over course of the year to give myself more frequent updates on my credit history.

4) I have set up Quicken to download any transactions daily. This way if any errant charges were made on my credit card, I would know about it ASAP.

5) I use temporary credit card numbers. My Citi Platinum Dividend Select has this feature and it is called "Virtual Account Numbers." You can access it and learn more about it here. This feature generates a random virtual credit card number that expires in a very short time period. That way, even if your virtual card number was stolen, it would be useless.

While the effectiveness of my methods is uncertain, at the very least if anything were to happen, I would be able to notice and rectify it quickly.

What other methods do you use to protect personal data?


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Blogger Justine Kaley said...

Identity Theft can never be controlled and contained because each time the justice system catches one of these creeps another is born plus because of the usefulness of stealing someones identity will always lure criminals into doing so. Our identities can be stolen from anyone anywhere now and they can get away with it because we can't find them until they make a mistake and they also could be living in another country too.

5:38 AM  
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