Vol. 11, No. 5, February 2009
Identity Theft* - Could It Happen To You?
This site, sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission, is directed to consumers, businesses and law enforcement, and has just about everything one needs to know about how to avoid identity theft or how to overcome the effects of identity theft. Under the "consumer" link in the top navigation bar, you will find detailed instructions on whom to notify if you believe you may be the victim of identity theft, or, if, due to the loss of your wallet, you fear you may become the victim of this crime. Be sure to watch the video which has useful tips on how to deter identity theft (do not carry your social security number with you ever); how to detect identity theft (review your credit report on a yearly basis); and how to defend yourself against this crime (put fraud alerts on your credit reports as soon as you suspect you may have been a victim).
Starting off with a quote from Othello ("But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which not enriches him/And makes me poor indeed." - Shakespeare, Othello, act iii. Sc. 3.,) this site goes on to explain that identity theft only became a federal crime in 1998, and offers examples of real cases of identity theft including the horrible case that spurred the passage of the 1998 legislation. Take the identity theft "quiz" which is really not a quiz but a long list of ideas on how to minimize your exposure to this crime. Check out the Internet and Telemarketing Fraud link for the newest in online fraud schemes.
In case there are students out there who think that identity theft is not something they need to worry about because all they have is student loan debt, the U.S. Department of Education wants to disabuse you of that notion: "In fact as a student, you may even be more vulnerable to identity theft because of the availability of your personal data and the way many students handle this data." This site will tell you how to protect yourself from identity theft as a student.
This site gets high marks for creativity in targeting its message to its intended audience – college students. Good graphics and design mask the fact that in a couple of pages the University of Oklahoma Police Department is able to impart all the information a college student would need to be better equipped to deter identity theft.
The Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries do a great job of providing substantive information on a wide range of legal topics, and their site for Identity Theft is as good as it gets. Use this site as a gateway to Massachusetts resources for this crime, including references to applicable Massachusetts statutes and regulations, and sites developed by the Massachusetts Attorney General and the State Police.
*18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7), inter alia.