CFA: Identity Theft Prevention

Visa USA and the Call for Action program are teaming up to fight the fastest growing crime in America, identity theft.

We've heard from countless folks who're victims of identity theft. They didn't do anything wrong. Their personal information somehow wound up in the wrong hands.

An identity thief stole Mark Olsen's good name and credit two years ago.

"The thief even had a driver's license with his picture and my name and social security number on it," Olsen says.

Federal officials say once a minute, someone in the United States becomes the victim of identity theft. A recent survey showed; the biggest problem for victims is the time it took to get things resolved.

Visa USA says it's doing what it can to help. The credit card company says it is shortening the "identifying" numbers, which are printed on receipts.

"This is very, very good news for the consumers. It's very, very bad news for the criminal element, so we're looking at every way we can to drive fraud down, but also to protect the consumer going forward," says Carl Pascarella with Visa USA.

Call for Action's national unit is helping, too, by joining forces with Visa USA. Their joint effort means you can get free, confidential counseling, should you become a victim.

A new Web site also provides advice and services online. Identity theft brochures are also available, free of charge.

Click here for Call for Action's Identity Theft Information

For a brochure, send a self addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to:

ID Theft Brochure
KKTV 11 News
3100 North Nevada
Colorado Springs, CO 80907 Extended Web Coverage

ID Theft

  • Identity theft is a crime in which the imposter obtains key pieces of information such as Social Security and driver's license numbers to obtain credit, merchandise and services in the name of the victim.

  • The victim is left with a ruined credit history and the time-consuming and complicated task of regaining financial health.

  • It is a dual crime, committed against an individual whose name and good credit history was ruined and against businesses who lost cash and merchandise.

Prevention Tips

  • Carefully destroy papers you don't need, especially those with sensitive or identifying information. Buy and use a good, cross-cut paper shredder.

  • Guard your Social Security Number. Don't carry your social security card with you. That also includes any cards or badges that may include this number on it. Resist giving it out unless necessary. Don't put SSN on checks.

  • Check all three of your credit reports once a year. This is one of the best ways to find out if someone is using your information without your knowledge. In most cases it will cost about $8 for each report unless you are a victim of financial crime or turned down for a job or credit due to your credit report.

    TransUnion: 800-888-4213 (fraud div.- 800-680-7289)
    Experian: 888-EXPERIAN (fraud div.- 888-397-3742)
    Equifax: 800- 685-1111 (fraud div.- 800-525-6285)

  • Block your name from marketing lists- 888-5OPTOUT. This is cut down on the number of pre-approved credit card offers you receive.

  • Guard your personal information. Carry as little as possible in your wallet. Get credit cards with your picture on them. Be alert to shoulder surfers listening for information. Cancel any credit cards you no longer use. That means contacting the company, not just cutting up the card. Keep confidential information in a locked area.

  • Be suspicious of telephone solicitors. Never give out information unless you have initiated the call. You should never need to give a social security number to a sales clerk.

  • Watch what happens to your credit card when you give it to a clerk. The instances of double skimming are on the rise. Double skimming occurs when the clerk not only charges you for your purchase but also runs your card through a computer scanner. Later this information is downloaded on a counterfeit card and used by imposters.

  • Demand that the businesses you frequent take good care of your information and find out how they protect you from ID theft.

Source: (Identity Theft Resource Center Web site) contributed to this report.