Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Identity Theft-Part Three

News you can use

“Identity theft is a crime. Someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”

The U.S. Justice Department

“Every 3 seconds another identity is stolen.”
Javelin Strategy and Research

Identity theft victimizes about ten million people annually, blasting our economy with a $50 billion hit according to Laurie Green of the Milwaukee Post Office. Green spoke at a special summit at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy in Franklin and delivered a disturbing message about identity theft: no one is safe.

Internet use and identity theft correlate. Your personal ID is at greater risk the more you surf the Net. Lost or stolen wallets loaded with credit cards and checks are gold mines to identity thieves who could be co-workers, friends, or even family members.

The keys to your ID that thieves desire are name, address, date of birth, driver’s license, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, and any account numbers. Credit cards, financial transactions, stolen mail, and computer information are common targets. However, identity thieves have become quite sophisticated.

Special Agent Wayne Ivey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was the main presenter at the Franklin summit. Ivey told attendees Albert Gonzalez pulled off the largest identity heist in the United States through a technique called “wardriving.” By driving through different locations armed with a laptop computer, Gonzalez was able to literally intercept retailers’ wireless Internet signals. He claimed 130 million victims. Earlier this year, Gonzalez was sent to prison for 20 years, the longest identity theft sentence ever imposed.

An increasing number of identity thieves are funding terrorists in other countries.
Remember, the September 11, 2001 hijackers used phony IDs to board planes. Thieves forge military IDs, threatening national security. They pile up traffic tickets in a victim’s name without intending to pay. They obtain passports in attempts to bring people into the country illegally.

The typical victim according to Ivey spends 400 hours straightening out a case, 
a period of 12.7 months transpires before an investigation even starts. By that time, all critical evidence could be gone.

Ivey told me at the summit he is very impressed with Wisconsin’s identity theft law, calling it one of the best in the nation. The state Legislature approved identity theft legislation during the 1997 regular session, Governor Tommy Thompson signed it into law, and it went into effect April 28, 1998. Wisconsin Statute 943.201 contains great detail and important language that if an individual reports identity theft to a law enforcement agency, “the agency shall prepare a report on the alleged violation.”
Violators are subject to a class H felony including up to six years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

If you are a victim:

1) Call the police.

2) Check your bank accounts

3) Contact the credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

4) Work with your creditors.

5) Report your case to the Federal Trade Commission.

To prevent identity theft:

  • Don’t put outgoing mail, especially bill payments, in personal curbside mailboxes
  • Make sure no one is standing right behind you when you’re using an ATM machine.
  • Pay your bills online using a secure site if available.
  • Don’t give out your credit card number on the Internet unless it is encrypted on a secure site.
  • If you have to give out personal or financial information from a public phone or by cell phone, make sure no one is listening or wait until you’re in a more secure location.
  • Shred all financial statements, billing statements, and preapproved credit card offers and the like before tossing in the trash. Use scissors to cut documents if you don’t have a shredder.
  • Examine all of your bank and credit card statements each month for mistakes or unfamiliar charges.  
  • Pick up new checks at the bank.
  • Commit all computer passwords to memory.  
  • Don’t give out your financial or personal information over the phone or Internet, unless you have initiated the contact.
  • Don’t exchange personal information for “prizes.”
  • Destroy the hard drive of your computer if you are selling it, giving it to charity, or otherwise disposing of it. Physically remove it.
  • Keep your wallet in your front pocket so a pickpocket can’t take it. Hold your purse close against your body through its straps.

Identity Theft - Part One

Identity Theft - Part Two

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