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Start Of School Year Prompts Identity Theft Prevention Warnings

August 29, 2011

SECURITY Magazine (Solutions For Enterprise Security Leaders) recently posted the following article that caught my attention and should catch yours:

At the start of each school year, parents and students fill out countless forms and applications that require personal information, such as social security numbers and date of birth – information that criminals can use in identity theft schemes.

“(Most people) don’t have an idea of where that data is going and, with college students, they probably don’t care,” Mike Prusinski, a certified identity theft risk management specialist, said.

But they should, he said.

“As consumers, we need to increase our education level about what’s going on with our data,” said Prusinski.  “There is an identity stolen every three seconds in the United States.  (And don’t assume this does not happen in Canada!).  You are 10 times more likely to have your identity stolen than your car.  There’s a  good reason why it’s called the fastest growing crime in America.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, as many as 9 million Americans become victims of identity theft.

How are thieves stealing information?

  • Dumpster diving: They rummage through trash, looking for bills or other documents.
  • Skimming: They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing credit cards.
  • Phishing: They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get Internet users to reveal personal information.
  • Changing victim’s addresses: They divert billing statements to another location by completing a change-of-address form.
  • Old-fashioned stealing: They steal wallets, purses and mail – including bank and credit card statements and pre-approved credit offers, replacement checks and tax data.

Get educated!

Prusinski said that the public should be more aware of identity theft, how it happens and what criminals can do with basic personal information.

If a criminal has someone’s social security number, they could open credit cards and damage a person’s credit.

“The most extreme possibiltiy is they commit a crime pretending to be you, get released on bond, skip the bond hearing and the police come looking for you,” Prusinski said.

Be proactive!

Identity theft victims often spend large amounts of time and money to repair their name and credit record.  You need to take steps to prevent the crime in the first place.

Avoid divulging information, such as account numbers, by phone, Internet or mail.

Monitor your credit scores!  Identity theft victims often discover the crime when checking their credit scores.

Get a shredder and shred everything!

Be careful about what you do on Social Media!  Criminals are good social engineers and can piece together information from many different places, such as Facebook, receipts and envelopes.

As adults, while protecting what’s ours, we can’t forget to protect our kids as well,” Mike Prusinski said.

First Day At School

Did you know that in Germany, the very first day at school has a very special tradition?  Every child will start their first day at school holding in their arms the precious “Schultüte”, a large conical bag filled with sweets and small surprises.  This custom is unique to Germany and is meant to “sweeten” the entry into the world of school.  (Any suggestions on who the girl in the picture below might be?)

From a security standpoint, many parents are unable to be home every day, when their children go to and get home from school.  Studies show that the after school hours are the most dangerous for unsupervised children, particularly  teenagers.  By having a security system capable of setting up alerts, you will know when your kids arrive home and if they leave the house again.  You can receive an e-mail or text message any time your system is armed or disarmed and even any time a door is opened.  Talk about peace of mind!

Preparing for the first day at school isn’t just about buying pencils and school uniforms, it is also about making decisions that will keep your family safe.

If you don’t have a security system or don’t have it monitored, call me for a free, no-obligation consultation.  You will be glad you did!
Ulli Robson, Security Specialist, (780) 288-2986

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  1. Both my girls received their Schultüte on their first day of Grade 1 in Sherwood Park! What a blast listening to a six year old trying to explain to all their ‘culturally void’ 6 year olf friends at school what a Schultüte was all about. Great memories.

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