So I’m on all sorts of e-mail lists. One of them is the Middleton Police department. In their recent newsletter I was kind of surprised that they noted identity theft as a growing problem. One other thing for you, dear reader, to worry about. In addition to the tips provided below, I’d like to add that postal mail is really insecure. Even if you have a locked mail box because you live in a condo or apartment, that doesn’t mean mail can’t get misdelivered. For example, I’ve had a Netflix DVD and a bank statement both delivered to people who weren’t me. My neighbors were nice enough to return them. The US postal service says:
Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends; deposit outgoing mail at the post office and promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery.
…but really, that doesn’t always happen. It makes sense to me to make it so that as little of your sensitive information gets sent through the mail at all. How much security is a thin envelope?
(Here’s the link to the police newsletter. Not sure why it’s in the PDF format, something web friendly would make more sense (it’s annoying to copy/paste from PDFs for example), I mean they did e-mail this link).
One of the most frequent type of crimes reported to the police department is identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft cases are especially difficult to investigate because the theft itself may have occurred in a different jurisdiction, or the victim may not even know that the crime was committed until they review their credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges they didn’t make—or until they are contacted by a debt collector.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help minimize the chances that your identity might be stolen, and there are resources available should you become a victim of identity theft. For more information you can visit the web site of the Wisconsin Office of Privacy Protection at http://privacy.wi.gov/
To deter identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission suggests the following:
- Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check.
- Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
- Don’t use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having work done in your house.
Categories: | Media | Middleton | Public Safety