Posted by wordforit on September 10, 2007
Advancement creates growing pains and with every new invention comes a new concern about how to protect oneself from those who would desecrate the sanctity of safe living. “Things” that some consider luxuries are the “things” which individuals have worked diligently to acquire but there is not a shortage of criminals without conscience who would take away ones very skin if they could get a nickel for it. The old saying, “He’d steal the nickels from a dead man’s eyes.” is a prevalent attitude in a world of, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” values or, I should say, lack of values.
I am as concerned about identity theft as anyone else, even though I am by no means “steppin’ in high cotton” (i.e., I’m not wealthy). For years, I have coped with an ‘ex’ having pertinent information that is being used to spend money I do not have. My only recourse is to collect the info in order to bring charges and it is, finally, now close to time for a warrant to be issued. Sad to say, but it pays to be cautious with those allowed close as well as strangers. No wonder we are so skeptical! I still trust people, but it has taught me to employ conscious discernment.
An experience such as that is more common than I would have thought until research on such topics permeated the information highways, byways, causeways, and all points between!
Lest I forget, there’s a Word For It: byway: 1.) Secluded, private, or obscure road 2.) A subsidiary or obscure field of research, endeavor, etc.
I chose that word for two reasons. It’s a word we often hear in song or limerick but don’t think about what a “byway” is and it’s ironic that the words “obscure”, “private” and “secluded” would come in to play while thinking about identity theft!
Chris Hansen from “Dateline” has done an excellent job, in my humble opinion, of bringing to light some of the clandestine criminals, especially online, who promise “untold riches” for a few dollars. In the stories aired on T.V., one has to question not only the sanity of some of the victims, but also the honesty.
The mother in Savannah, Georgia had to know she was receiving “hot” merchandise, even if the guy was good looking and wanted to marry her and be a father to her children. The same for the guy in New York, although he may have been a trifle more desperate but just as easily seduced by pictures of a lovely woman promising marriage. One cannot be a victim and a conduit at the same time.
Word For It: conduit: 1.) A pipe or channel for conveying fluids, such as water. 2.) A tube or duct enclosing electric wires or cable. 3.) A means by which something is transmitted. For example, an arms dealer who served as a conduit for intelligence data.
Regardless, if we are to keep our business “our business” in the context of monetary privacy, there are steps to be taken and responsibilities to accept.
It is hard to fathom why people continue to open e-mails from a source claiming to have access to funds from a deceased relative who has never before surfaced. If they were indeed rich, wouldn’t Aunt Frannie, or someone, have mentioned it? Or, why would a person believe that a successful business needed help in transferring funds? Come on, everyone has heard of money laundering if they haven’t heard of internet scams! My sympathy goes out to those who have lost so much to predators, but we have to be smarter!
Two of the most important habits to adopt is to delete “History” from any banking, purchasing, etc. conducted online and never let anyone see you type in codes when using any kind of card in the checkout line at an on ground store. For some of us, that is boring news but it continues to happen that pin numbers are being copied.
Who would have thought a restaurant server would have time or technology to scan a credit card to steal the info for personal use? Some eateries are using table top credit card terminals to allow customers to run their charge card themselves. Or, here’s a thought, take it to the cashier or pay cash!
My social security number was stolen before computers were common and it cannot be stressed enough to contact the Social Security Administration for assistance in retrieving and/or changing personal information.
Consumers and businesses have the rightful ability to ensure they are not being scammed so utilizing resources is at least an effort to keep people honest.
In the USA, we have the Federal Trade Commission on the job and they offer sound advice applicable to anyone who wants to prevent or resolve an ID issue.
All of that said, albeit in general terms, I offer that I have shopped online, and know plenty of others who do so, without a single problem. A smart technique is to have credit cards that only allow a small amount to be charged for such purposes. I do not have that option due to aforementioned acquaintances and encounters damaging my credit, therefore, I enact the safest techniques I know; check balances frequently, erase history and cache from my computer, do not carry my SS# with me, and keep all pin numbers for charge cards, bank accounts and so on, in a secure place.
In my case, access to tax info is what caused so much more trouble in finances than a stolen SS# by a stranger. As much conflict as there is in marriage, I might even go so far as to say file taxes separately until your ??th anniversary!
There was a story in the newspaper several years ago about an elderly lady whom two scoundrels decided to rob. She told the reporter how they ransacked her home, threatened her and looked in places she had not thought of for a hiding place. In the end, they were unable to find anything of value and were caught without any loot. I smile today when I think about where that sweet old lady told the reporter her money was hidden. In her words, “In my bosom.”.
On your person, under the mattress, in the cookie jar, whether online or off, there is not a perfect science for keeping a crook from attempting to rob us. By keeping account numbers and pin numbers in separate places and acting with caution in online transactions, we can at least make them work for the info!
Following links open in new windows.
Visit the Social Security Administration here: http://www.ssa.gov/
Read more about the Federal Trade Commission here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
One place to go for a credit report from the three major agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, is: http://www.annualcreditreport.com
Info (and merchant) regarding mobile credit card terminals: http://www.cardserviceinternational.com/wireless_credit_card_terminal.htm
Chris Hansen’s blog : http://insidedateline.msnbc.msn.com/archive/category/1034.aspx