You roll over to face 2:23 a.m. on your alarm clock. Red and blue lights are flashing through your apartment windows. You fell asleep a happy consumer, but now you awake with the barrel of a 9 mm driven into the base of your neck, police screaming for you to stay silent and keep still.
This isn’t 1984, and this isn’t Big Brother’s fault. Chances are you are a victim of Identity Theft.
Last year alone, 9.3 million Americans were victims of ID theft, which, Time magazine reported, resulted in a $52 billion blunder of bogus buyers. But try not to be too frightened. This is worst-case scenario.
Most often, you will only suffer a major loss of funds and two months frustration trying to regain favor in the eyes of a credit card company indifferent to circumstance. You might only have to stand in the DMV line for three hours because of this.
You might also have to explain to your wife/husband that it wasn’t you that overspent the monthly budget at the local supplier of Adult Entertainment.
If you still have a wallet, you may be wondering how it was that your identity was stolen in the first place. The answer given most often is that ID theft is a consequence of the convenient consumerism the internet affords. However, do not believe the hype about hyperspace, it is not as dangerous as some might think.
The sharks still swim the waters of the net we surf, yet these online attacks happen less often than the hard-paper attacks of lost wallets or carelessly placed credit card receipts and bank statements.
According to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research and the Better Business Bureau, only 12 percent of cases of identity theft occur online.So, what can you do to protect yourself?
One solution taken in the veterinary world to identify dogs is a biological implant containing all the needed information in a format incapable of being lost or stolen. However, the “Mark of the Beast” fire & brimstone implications of using such methods on humans might make this option undesirable to many.
On its website, the Federal Trade Commission gives many practical and immediate solutions, the first of which is simply to be careful with your information. If shopping or banking online, be sure you are on a secure website. These are typically identified by a padlock icon either in the address bar or the lower right corner of the browser.
Keep a watchful eye on your mail, and destroy anything you do not save, especially credit card offers. If you have a paper shredder, use it– liberally.
Save receipts from credit card purchases since these can also help in case the IRS suddenly becomes untrusting of your finances.
If you are as careful with important papers as you are with rectangular green papers, it is unlikely that you will be a victim of this technological crime.
The day may come when we can consume happily, without fear of sharks in the feeding waters, feeding on the reward of our blood and sweat.
Hopefully you won’t have to explain to the FBI why your internet signal was traced entering the felon fantasy land of child pornography. Hopefully the Department of Homeland Security will understand that it wasn’t you using your checking account when a donation was made to “Al Qaeda, Inc.”