Identity Theft Cost $45B In ’07, FTC Says

A new report released on Wednesday shows how serious and widespread identity theft is.

The Federal Trade Commission said that for the eighth year in a row, the crime is the top consumer complaint. The FTC found that 23,000 people fall victim to identity theft every day. In 2007, the report shows, consumers lost more than $45 billion to thieves, and it took an average of 328 hours per person to repair the damage.

The FTC said paper documents continue to be one of the primary ways identity thieves get private information. One of the best ways consumers can protect themselves is to shred private papers as well as unsolicited credit card offers, bank statements and credit card receipts.

Lincoln-based Paper Tiger Shredding destroys 300,000 pounds of materials every month, according to Ryan Funke. The company mostly serves businesses, but Funke said that individuals are catching on, and lately more and more consumers have hired them to do their shredding.

“There’s always the chance some of your records get there and the only way you know it’s destroyed is if you see it destroyed,” Funke said.

Consumers should also check their credit reports often to screen for any fraudulent activity, lock mailboxes to keep thieves from stealing mail and limit the personal information carried along. Don’t carry Social Security cards.

Florida Shredding