BEWARE OF IDENTITY THIEVES

A Word To The Wise

No matter what banks, credit card companies and others involved with personal finance do to lessen customer's risks and improve security, ingenious thieves across the nation seem only a half step behind them in figuring out equally effective countermeasures and schemes to invade our privacy and steal our resources.

The 1990s spawned a new breed of crooks known as “Identity Thieves” - whose stock in trade is our everyday personal transactions, i.e., our bank and credit card account numbers, our incomes, social security numbers, names, addresses and telephone numbers. Nothing seems sacred to these rogues except to relieve you of your funds, usually before you are aware of it.

Personal computers are easy marks for Identity thieves with nerd skills, despite firewalls and other protective software. Experts can easily get around these devices and steal enough information to do financial harm - sometimes catastrophic. But even those who don't use computers are easy prey.

What to do?

Get the facts and take every precaution possible.

How?

The Federal Trade Commission has published an outstanding booklet entitled ID Theft - When Bad Things Happen To Your Good Name. It is a must-read if one wants to learn how to avoid being scammed - or at least greatly minimize the prospects for such a personal catastrophe.

Your bank may have a copy to give you, as mine did, or you can check out the FTC's Website at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/.

But don't wait.

Do it NOW.

You probably will make some changes in the way you handle your personal affairs.