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"Understanding and Protecting Against Identity Theft!"

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Troy D. Allen Photo
8/4/06 Interview with Troy D. Allen

Kroll Worldwide
1900 Church Street, Suite 300
Nashville, TN 37203

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Defining Identity Theft

  1. Having a credit card, checks or debit card stolen and used, commonly labeled as identity theft, is actually "current account takeover."
  2. True identity theft involves someone getting your name and Social Security number-and sometimes beyond that, date of birth and address-and using the information to do things in your name without your knowledge.
  3. The kinds of things done as part of identity theft may include opening new accounts, getting employment and health benefits, renting housing, and getting utilities; these are difficult to find and can do great damage.
Unauthorized Use of Credit Cards

  1. This is easy to commit and relatively easy to fix; call the credit card company to dispute the transaction, cancel the card and have the company send you a new card.
  2. Several years ago, credit card companies challenged such a report and required proof of the misuse; when credit card theft became big news, companies went to the other extreme, and some people took advantage by claiming fraud to get rid of legitimate debt.
  3. The pendulum has swung back a bit; usually you will have to provide some documentation for a fraud/theft claim.
Reducing Exposure to Identify Theft

  1. Watching your mail and shredding documents are prudent habits; do not carry your Social Security number; do not give it out unless you have to.
  2. Identity theft cannot be totally stopped; you are exposed by what you have done in the past; you have given your name and Social Security number to countless locations (schools, employers, banks, medical professionals) that retain it in multiple places, in hardcopy and electronically.
  3. Most places do little to protect identity information, so legislation is beginning to require notification to consumers of security breaches; identity theft is an organized crime today-groups steal identity data en masse.
  4. The FTC web site has a list of things you can do to decrease your vulnerability to identity theft; one suggestion is to make sure you get your mail; drug-addicted thieves are stealing mail out of people's mailboxes, rerouting your information to themselves and using it to buy drugs.
  5. Be cautious online-avoid phishing scams-but the Internet is not the issue that it is blown up to be.
  6. Pay attention to things you might consider junk mail or nuisance telemarketing calls; if you get a communication welcoming you to a program that you think is a mistake, check out if you have been enrolled and how.
Consequences for Identity Theft Victims

  1. The hype about identify theft focuses on credit issues, but only about 20% of identity theft has anything to do with data that will show up in a credit bureau report; 80% is related to employment, health benefits, utilities, rental housing and other matters that cannot be easily monitored.
  2. Illegal aliens and people who have ruined their own names are using other identities to live; everything someone does under your identity gets attached to your records-you pay taxes on their income; their health record goes under your name; their utility and rental records impact you in public databases.
  3. Most financial institutions and other organizations that vet consumers use public data-which is not regulated as credit bureau data is; erroneous information in public data can have a significant impact on your life.
  4. Anyone with a name and Social Security number is a potential target for identify theft; for credit, thieves want someone with a decent credit rating, but they don't know which names will work until they try.
  5. Criminals have figured out that identity theft is easy to commit, hard to detect and incurs very small penalties; so it is commonly happening much more than the public realizes.
Dealing with Identity Theft

  1. Finding out that you have been victimized and correcting the problem are difficult; only the credit industry has a comprehensive set of your data accessible to you somewhat affordably; monitoring credit reports is important but not a panacea-it identifies issues after they occur.
  2. Other areas, including the linking of criminal activity to your name, may not be discovered until they cause a problem for you.
  3. Once a problem is discovered, you need to get in touch with every organization that has your incorrect information and get it fixed; the FTC posts information on its web site for you to handle this yourself, but most people don't have the time and resources to do it.
  4. If you have someone else do a restoration of your identity, be sure to use a resource that is legitimate and competent; some attorneys are capable but expensive; many companies who claim to do restoration really only assist with forms and checklists.
The Kroll Identity Theft Program

  1. Kroll, a security and risk management company for 30 years, has a low profile because most clients (major organizations and governments) don't want the public to know they needed services for security breaches.
  2. Unlike service companies that give consumers a checklist to implement themselves, Kroll does most of the actual work to resolve identity issues on behalf of the victim-finding the organizations involved, making the phone calls, emails and faxes, and handling disputes and follow-ups.
  3. The cost of the Kroll restoration service for someone already a victim is $1,495; by special arrangement with the Society, members can sign up for ID TheftSmart®, a low-cost program ($9.95/month) providing comprehensive use of Kroll services-credit monitoring and identity services.
  4. For information on the Society Identity Theft Program visit or call 800-535-645
Wrap-up Tips

  1. Be vigilant; do not give out your information unless necessary-minimize the number of places that retain your data.
  2. You can safely use credit cards, even over the Internet-just be sure that you deal with legitimate organizations.
Favorite Places on the Web

  1. The FTC is a great place to go for reliable information about identity theft.
  2. The three credit report bureaus-Equifax, Experian and Transunion-supply info about credit reports, monitoring and free reports.
Contact Information for Troy D. Allen:

(v) 615-320-9800
(f) 615-320-9916

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Society ID theft program: 800-535-6451 or
FTC on ID theft: