Four Steps To Prevent Identity Theft

CBS Broadcasting Inc
4/11/2007 – (CBS 5) The number one consumer concern in California for the seventh year now is identity theft. A million of us will become victims this year – a number that included Susie Wyshak.

“I was completely shocked. I had no idea how they got it and how it ended up in Las Vegas,” she said.

Wyshak only found out her identity was stolen when she got a call about a bounced check — in Nevada.

“One of my theories with my identity theft was that someone who stole a bag of my recyclables before I even had a shredder,” she told us.

Experts at the California Identity Theft Summit, said most consumers may be concerned about security, but they’re not doing enough to protect themselves.

“They’re saying ‘Even though I’m worrying about it, I’m not going to let it inconvenience me’,” said privacy expert Larry Ponemon. “‘I’m going to use the website even though they collect my information, I’m not going to shred my papers and I’m not going to tear up applications for credit cards.'”

And despite recent high profile security breaches, most identity theft is still the old-fashioned kind — from bills stolen out of your mail, to a lost wallet.

“You need to monitor your accounts as frequently as you can, turn off the paper records in favor of the internet, don’t give up your information to anybody,” advises James Van Dyke of Javelin Strategy & Research.

That includes online. So make sure your computer has anti-virus and anti-spyware protection.

“But there’s some pieces of software out there that masquerade as anti-spyware software,” warned Ron Gabrielson of the Geek Squad. “So you have to be very careful what you’re using.”

Wyshak offers this acronym for preventing identity theft: SCUM.

That includes:
– Shred everything including mailing labels
– Cancel unwanted mail
– Update computer security software
– Monitor your credit

“I recommend taking steps in advance rather than waiting for that call from the bill collector,” Wyshak said with a laugh.

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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