Outside Legal Counsel PLC

ID Theft & Web Top Fraud List

For Immediate Release | Jan 27, 2006

On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission released its annual totals for consumer complaints about fraud and identity theft. And once again, identity theft is leading the way.

Identify theft occurs when someone steals your personal information like credit card numbers, social security number, or bank accounts without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft.

According to the FTC, filed complaints specifically dealing with identity theft topped the list accounted for 37 percent or 255,000 of more than 686,000 complaints filed with the agency in 2005.

Additionally, Internet-related complaints accounted for 46 percent of ALL fraud complaints, accounting for over 300,000 registered complaints.

These are the break down by the numbers:
  • Internet Auctions - 12 percent
  • Foreign Money Offers - 8 percent
  • Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales - 8 percent
  • Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries - 7 percent
  • Internet Services and Computer Complaints - 5 percent
  • Business Opportunities and Work-at-Home plans - 2 percent
  • Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection - 2 percent
  • Telephone Services - 2 percent
  • Other - 17 percent

    How To Prevent ID Theft
    Here are some suggestions on what you should do to prevent identity theft and what actions you should take in your suspect identity theft.

    1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name printed on the checks. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

    2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

    3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

    4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards, etc.

    What To Do If You Think You're a Victim
    Here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

    1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them

    2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

    3. Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

    The numbers are:
    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
    Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289


    The above article was issued by an OLC attorney when he previously worked in corporate operations and communications. Because these articles are highly informative, they are provided as a service of this law firm.