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So now we shouldn't worry about identity theft?

According to Separating myth from reality in ID theft, identity theft is pretty close to a non-issue.

Tell that to the credit card folks who warn me that I should be buying their "insurance". I keep saying no, and I imagine them shaking their heads in dismay. "Poor thing, he just doesn't understand how much risk he's taking. Oh well, we'll try again next month."

Actually, given all the buzz, you'd think we'd all know at least someone who had their lives ruined by electronic theft. But the fact is, getting a credit card number isn't all that useful - if it were, we'd all worry much more about waiters and store clerks than our electronic transactions. We've heard stories that someone knows someone who knows someone who got burned, but do you know anyone personally?

Sure, I lost a credit card once. Dropped out of my wallet in a parking lot, and the person who found it had a great weekend. But it didn't cost me anything - I had reported it missing as soon as I noticed. Consumer protection laws limit your liability to very small amounts anyway, and having a piece of plastic in your hand is much different than just having the numbers.

Still, credit card fraud happens. But credit card fraud isn't identity theft. There's a big difference between a few charges on your credit card and a credit report that has been polluted by someone else's bad credit. Apparently the latter doesn't happen as often as those selling us "insurance" would like us to believe.



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© Anthony Lawrence







Tue Nov 15 17:03:39 2005: 1356   BigDumbDinosaur


There's a big difference between a few charges on your credit card and a credit report that has been polluted by someone else's bad credit. Apparently the latter doesn't happen as often as those selling us "insurance" would like us to believe.

Far more insidious would be the accidental revelation of your social security number (SSN). Give a crook your SSN and he or she can become you.

You should never give out your SSN over the phone or have it printed on such things as your driver's license or checks (also, don't have your phone number printed on your checks). If asked for an SSN you should demand (not ask -- demand!) to know why that information is needed. More often than not, the person asking for your SSN has no valid reason to know it. There are only a few cases where an SSN is legally required (applying for employment is obviously one of them, as is opening a bank account). Landlords or property management companies will often ask for an SSN when you apply to rent an apartment. Refuse the request and if they tell you they can't process your application without giving them an SSN, file an unfair housing complaint with the relevant authorities.

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