With identity theft on the rise in the United States, more people are being affected everyday. But there are ways to prevent this from happening.
The U.S. Office of the Inspector General states that identity theft takes place when someone “knowingly transfers or uses, with lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity.”
Orie Lovett, a graduate business administration student from Atlanta was a recent victim of identity theft.
Lovett said that she is really worried about identity theft and its effect on students like herself. “It really disturbs me, especially being a student because mine was financial,” Lovett said.”I lost a lot of money,” Lovett said. Many cases of identity theft are preceded with a red flag. Lovett said people should be cautious about any and every transaction with personal information involved.
“Make sure you know all details about your transaction,” Lovett said. “If there is not real paperwork involved, regardless if you trust the person or not, there should be a red flag.”Wachovia financial specialists state that students tend to be more vulnerable to identity theft because of the constant transfer of personal information they experience during their educational career.
From applying for financial aid to checking account balances online, if not careful, students can quickly become victims of identity theft.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, identity theft is one of the fastest growing consumer crimes in the nation. Identity theft costs victims more than $5 billion annually. As stated by the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 9.9 million consumers were victims of identity theft in 2003. Even after the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, the numbers are still rising. This is causing more consumers to lose money.
Aside from being able to recognize possible cases of identity theft, there have been preventative tactics implemented to aid today’s consumers.
Marsha Tison, a financial specialist at Wachovia, explained that Wachovia educates its customers of ways to be safe about transactions dealing with personal information.
“We practice verifying forms of identification, pin numbers, customer access numbers and account information,” Tison said.According to Wachovia, providing protection through four main areas of account security is effective. These four areas are account protection services, fraud monitoring, information security and resolution and recovery. In addition to these four areas, Wachovia also provides online safety tips to assist customers.
Wachovia’s “A Guide to Preventing Fraud and Identity Theft” states that not giving out personal information through e-mails, keeping passwords private and unique, and using secure Internet browsers can aid in safeguarding against identity theft.
Tison said identity theft does not always happen over the Internet.
People should be careful of other ways, especially over the phone.
“Always know who you’re dealing with,” Tison said, “and never give out personal information over the phone to someone you don’t know.”