Parker County Today August 2017 - Page 114

our opinions: CURMUDGEON MUSINGS The Last Word BY MARK BROWN Everyone Wants To Be Me I wanted to write about something that’s affecting millions of people in our country, and the rest of the world, for that matter. I’ve worked in a busi- ness that has invested over 14 years learning how to best protect and educate people about it.  My other writing alternative this month was to write about the massive traffic in and around Weatherford, and we all know that’s totally unsolv- able. I certainly can’t educate you about it. So, I’ll share my take on identity theft, some of the misconceptions about it, and best of all, what you can do to avoid becoming a victim. I began learning about ID theft in 2003. I’d hadn’t heard about the problem, thought it was something someone dreamed up just to sell. I look back on those early 2000s and that’s when I believe the world truly changed. It started with 9/11. Our world was rocked. Then shortly after 9/11 happened, a little thing called Enron rocked our world a little more. In my opinion, these two events made everything different in our society. That’s also about the time Congress passed a law called Sarbanes/Oxley; originally it was to protect shareholders from bad accounting practices, but it also sparked many of the privacy policies we see in today. It was administered by the FTC. Also about this time, a company called Kroll came to our company and educated us on what identity theft actually was. If you can remember back in those years, hardly anyone talked about identity theft, never mind making movies about it.  112 Eventually, some commercials started airing on TV, where actors would portray ID theft scenarios, but most had to do with someone buying stuff using your credit.  ID theft started to become more and more sophisticated as time went by. You started seeing data breaches in companies, and then unions, associations, and anyone that kept people’s info, like human resource departments, or anyplace else that scumbag thieves could go to get their hands on personal information. So, it’s this simple: instead of robbing banks, kidnapping people, or whatever other schemes lowdown worthless thieves can get involved in, now they have figured out how to steal your info and use it, but also sell it on the black market, over and over again. So here are some ID theft scenar- ios: Someone steals your ID and commits a crime in your name. Why is this so bad? Well, say a police officer stops you for speeding, and then the officer tells you that you are the subject of a felony warrant for theft by check charges. You try to tell the officer, “I’ve never written any hot checks. I’m innocent.” But the officer’s job isn’t to adjudicate the problem, their goal is to get you to a judge. So, you find yourself in a legal mess all because of an identity thief. Someone reports income in your name, steals your medical ID, gains access to your insurance coverage, you end up with the wrong blood type in your file, or wrong allergies. Say they steal your minor child’s ID, usually through the Social Security number they get at birth. That’s a situation that you probably wouldn’t discover for a while, until they go get a job, or plug into the system some other way. I know a child who, at the age of six, his parents discovered that he had 34 hot checks in his name. Turns out his Social Security number was stolen early on. Say someone steals your tax infor- mation, and they file tax returns using your info. Tax-related ID theft is the number one identity theft problem. Now there is a crime called synthetic identity theft. This is where a scumbag crook will steal several identities and use a part of each one, creating a whole new identity. So here we are, our lives revolve around trying to secure our lives with user names and passwords. But, everything we use has a downside — social media, Instagram, Google, TweetFace, internet, credit cards, and employment records, etc. … Half of the world is paranoid, and the other half is pass-worded. I’m not saying all of this to scare you, but to educate you. Things are very different from the way they were just a few years ago. I can remember a time when we would throw our canceled checks in the trash. No one thought anybody would want something like that. Like companies, we need to have a clean desk policy at our homes. So just beware, keep it on your mind. The world is tricky enough without having to deal wit Z[]H][Q]\Y[\Z\Y [B\Z\YQ\^[Y[H\KB]Y[[YHۜ[Z[\ܙK