I make a portion of my living talking about identity theft. Admittedly, I profit from the crime. I don't steal identities of course, but I get paid because others steal. I'm not FBI, CIA, Secret Service or a cop. But you wouldn't disparage any of those entities for doing their jobs to protect you from bad guys.
I talk about this issue all day, every day to whoever will listen. I'm obsessed with this and all issues regarding personal security. It's what I do, and it seems to be "my purpose." I may sometimes go a bit overboard in my take on these issues and what people need to do to protect themselves, but sometimes that's what it takes for people who think it can't happen to them get off their duff and be proactive.
All that said, it bothers the heck out of me when someone looks me straight in the eye and tells me that identity theft is no big deal, that I should get over it. That's exactly Julia Angwin does in this Wall Street Journal article. And she uses a prominent industry professional as the anchor of her article, to confirm her beliefs and trivialize this heinous crime.
The fact is, crime happens all day, every day. Some crimes are more or less common. Some are more or less invasive. All crimes have victims and all victims suffer the consequences of others actions. To trivialize those victims and make little of their burden is a completely incomprehensible act.
I responded to this article with the following comment:
"The author hides under the guise of The Decoder and will not give her name in this article. In another article she is Julia Angwin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Why not sign your name here?? [Angwin's name now appears under the article.]
A person is more likely to be a victim of some form of identity theft than to be injured in a motor vehicle accident. But I'll bet she wears a seat belt and doesn't trivialize that. A person is more likely to be a victim of identity theft than have their home broken into or car stolen. But I'll bet she locks up. A person is more likely to be victim of identity theft than be sexually assaulted. But she dare not trivialize that. A person is more likely to be a victim of identity theft than have their child abducted. But I'll bet she watches her kids close at the park. Sister, just because you don't understand something doesn't give you the right to make little of it. Identity theft victims suffer the consequences of fraud every day. Some much more than others. For the victims, identity theft is a living hell. I wouldn't wish any of the above on anyone and hope identity theft never happens to you. If it does you will sing a different tune and be appropriately empathetic to the victims of this heinous crime.
And Bruce, really, the contrarian thing is very obvious. To say you're not worried and don't do anything is a slap in the face to everyone who has been victimized and everyone who cares to prevent it. Your credibility just slipped a notch in this fan's opinion."
And because I care and because I'm being paid and because I believe in the following, I'm going to make a couple suggestions to you as to how you should protect yourself. But really, identity theft is no big deal.
1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search "credit freeze" or "security freeze" and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.
2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Prevention and Protection (Disclosures). While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what's buzzing out there in regards to you.
Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing identity theft on the rise on Fox News.