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Identity theft topic of upcoming seminar

By Art Powell | | March 26, 2009

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An identity theft and awareness campaign at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., is underway that is designed to provide personnel with information that could help protect them against identity theft.

Thirty minute seminars on the subject are scheduled here.

“The Federal Trade Commission has put together a program we’ll use and it’s designed to help people harden themselves against identity theft,” said Rick Dunwoodie, special agent, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, MCLB Albany.

Beginning at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at the Base Theater, Dunwoodie will present back-to-back 20-30 minute blocks of information on the topic.

“Someone can come in anytime they want that afternoon and receive the information and then depart,” he said.

Identity theft is a fast-growing crime and the statistics prove it.

According to the website www.creditreport.com, identity theft (or ID theft) is the process whereby a criminal steals your name, contact information and other personal information to commit fraud or other crimes, normally resulting in their own financial gain.

ID theft has become an increasing epidemic in the United States and elsewhere, as the growth of the Internet has provided new opportunities to “cash in” by stealing the identities of others.

According to the Better Business Bureau and Javelin Strategy and Research, from data collected in January 2005, there have been more than nine million victims a year for two years running and according to the Federal Trade Commission in 2003 and the Better Business Bureau in 2005, there have been more than 30-million victims in the past five years.

ID theft has been the top consumer complaint at the FTC for five years in a row.

“NCIS has instituted a new crime prevention program this year and it addresses a new subject each quarter. The first one was on family violence awareness, identity theft this quarter and the last two topics will be announced later,” said Dunwoodie.

In 1998, Congress directed the FTC to establish the federal government’s central repository for identity theft complaints and to provide victim assistance and consumer education.

Specifically, Congress directed the FTC to establish procedures to log the receipt of complaints by victims of identity theft; provide identity theft victims with informational materials and refer complaints to appropriate entities, including the major national consumer reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies.

The core initiatives of the program are designed to assist victims, educate consumers, law enforcement and the business community, and maintain and disseminate information.

But many victims don’t use or choose not to use available government resources should they become victims of identity theft.

“Identity theft is one of the most underreported crimes. Many people don’t come forward and report it to law enforcement, choosing to deal with it themselves,” explained Dunwoodie. “It’s a very difficult crime to investigate because it may cross more than one jurisdiction. Action depends on where the crime occurred. When someone’s identity is stolen, then the question is when and where that stolen information was used.”

Reporting ID theft could become a requirement, not an option.

“When someone is a victim, the first thing they want to do is get it straightened out. Also, many creditors are now requiring that victims report the crime so law enforcement can gather data to substantiate that activity on their credit card is fraudulent and not just something they claim is fraudulent,” explained Dunwoodie.

The information at the MCLB Albany seminar is useful in both an individual’s professional and private life.

Callers to the FTC’s telephone hotline receive counseling from specially trained personnel who provide general information about identity theft, help guide victims through the steps needed to resolve the problems resulting from the misuse of their identities, and advise victims about their rights under relevant consumer credit laws.

If the investigation and resolution of the identity theft falls under the jurisdiction of another regulatory agency that has a program in place to assist consumers, callers also are referred to those agencies.

The FTC’s identity theft website, located at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, provides equivalent service.

The site contains a secure complaint form, which allows victims to enter their identity theft information.

Victims also can read and download the resources necessary for reclaiming their credit record and good name.

One of these resources is the FTC’s consumer education booklet, Identity Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name.

The 26-page booklet, now in its fourth edition, comprehensively covers a range of topics, including the first steps to take for victims, how to correct credit-related and other problems that may result from identity theft, tips for those having trouble getting a police report taken, and advice on ways to protect personal information.

 It also describes available federal and state resources.

Consumers who want information about identity theft may call a toll-free telephone number, 1-877-ID THEFT (438-4338).


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