Be Careful -- Identity Theft is a crisis and growing

Real Estate Agent with RE-Source Realty Brokers, In.c

Identity theft is a multi-billion dollar illegal industry, inflicting its harm on 27 million Americans. By contrast, approximately 16 million Americans have some type of diabetes, the fastest growing health problem. How do thieves get this information to feed their nefarious habits?

Most thieves obtain your information by simply searching through trash, removing mail from your mailbox, and stealing data from your place of employment. Other times, companies mistakenly make it available.

Backup tapes have been lost by premier financial institutions. Rogue employees have taken data on laptops. This has become a major public relations disaster for some consumer product and service firms. What has been the governmental response to this threat on our well-being and pursuit of happiness?

Congress has enacted three forms of legislation to combat identity theft:

HIPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was introduced by President Clinton in 1996. Its purpose was to protect the medical information of the patient, while allowing that patient greater access to their own medical records, and to how that information was being used.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) is legislation administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It was enacted to protect shareholders and the general public from accounting errors and fraudulent practices in the enterprise. The Act states that all business records and electronic messages must be saved for "not less than five years." The legislation not only affects the financial side of corporations, but also affects IT departments whose job it is to store a corporation's electronic records.

While these two pieces of legislation focus on healthcare and accounting, the third is the broadest, and will cover the remaining industries.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) is a consumer rights bill that came into effect June 1, 2005. It was designed to lower the risk of identity theft and consumer fraud. FACTA basically requires that all business, regardless of size and industry, properly protect and dispose of the personal information they collect about their customers and employees.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responding to the fact that identity theft is considered the fastest growing crime in the country and the FTC wants to prevent valuable consumer or employee information from being easily discovered and used for nefarious purposes with criminal intent. Business will now be required to implement effective policies related to all information security, or pay severe penalties.

What is the best thing to do?

  • Shred everything that contains names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, driver's license number, credit card number and any other information.

  • Establish policies and procedures in the workplace as well as record retention policies and shredding stations. It is not expensive compared to a major security breech and the resulting loss of trust and fallout.
Just trying to help you here...   Your blogging friend, Bill

Comments (2)

Doug Beaver
Century 21 Olde Tyme - Corona, CA
Corona Norco Eastvale Riverside Homes
Bill, Great post, people need to read this and take it to heart....
Sep 18, 2007 04:46 AM
Leon Austin
Mobile Notary Services - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Mobile Notary

Bill, I knew it was a serious problem, but I didn't realize the magnitude of it until you put it into numbers like that. I shred everything. But I know that isn't enough. Like you said, people have various ways of getting the information.


Sep 19, 2007 01:42 AM