Program: Protect yourself from identify theft

Chaska Rotarian Char Weber introduced Thursday’s speaker with two first names: Larry Marty, from Harvard Risk Management Corporation. Larry works from an office in Chaska in the field of identity theft protection, and provided us with data that emphasized the probability of each of us being a victim of this prevalent crime. According to the FBI, “no one is immune” and it is more likely home or car burglary.
Apparently, it is more lucrative for nefarious crooks to steal identities than to sell drugs. Most identity thefts are not credit related, but that still happens. A slide was shown that included companies that have experienced data breaches and most of us were connected to several of the retail, financial and social organizations that have web-based access. Larry showed a video clip that emphasized the risk of personal based information being used to steal tax refunds. The average identity theft results in about 600 hours of effort by the victim to resolve the problems it creates, such as character blemishes, false criminal history, employer references, medical bills, financial debts, driver license issues, and bad credit scores for juveniles that don’t surface until years later. Larry gave us examples of e-mail “phishing” where personal info is extracted from unsuspecting replies to fake organizations. He summarized some of the preventative actions we should take: cross-cut shredding of paper records, using on-line methods of account management, good selection of passwords, restricting access to personal information, don’t carry Social Security or Medicare or insurance cards in your wallet, photocopy the wallet contents, so you have a record if the wallet is lost, and to use only secure mail deposit boxes for outgoing bill payments.