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Millions of Dollars Lost by Victims of Identity Theft

Identity theft has skyrocketed in the past few years. In earlier days the postal service and the telephone were often used as the means by which unscrupulous and unprincipled persons used to carry out their crimes. More recently, along with those means, increased technological advances such as the Internet are used by scam art-ists to take hard earned and often much needed money from folks. Victims range from the wealthy to the very poor.
I read recently that up to ten million Americans go through the worry and aggravation associated with the horrible crime of ID theft. “You just can’t be too careful,” just might be one of the best slogans to combat that terrible crime. Vigilance is a must if ID theft is to be slowed or stopped. I suppose as long as there are in-dividuals who have no compunction about how they achieve monetary gain, there will be identity theft.
I choose to write about the topic of identity theft this week because I was approached recently by a man who had recognized a scam and had stopped just short of being a victim. The person who called him talked a while and then tried to get him to disclose his account number. Knowing that no legitimate business would ask that, he ended the phone call and averted becoming a victim. A few days later, another man told me he had started receiving threaten-ing letters and phone calls demanding that he pay out large sums of money to avoid a lawsuit for not paying bills he did not owe. He showed me the letters he received and they were loaded with incor-rect spelling and bad grammar and certainly would not have come from a legitimate source.
The second person mentioned provided me some information I want to pass in part on to my readers. He said it was advice given to him by a top-level law enforcement agency. That information follows with some slight editing by me.

Do not send money to charitable organizations that are not known to be legitimate. Check them out thoroughly. Legitimate charities won’t mind being scrutinized.
Do not answer phone calls that have an unknown name or a num-ber that you don’t recognize.
Remove your personal information from Internet websites.
Ordering from the Internet or television merchandising programs is risky and you should only pay through a trusted source.
If you are receiving e-mail or phone calls demanding money that you don’t owe, don’t send money but contact law enforcement.
When scammers get vital information about you, they never quit trying to trick you into giving them money. The only solution is to break contact with them by not answering unknown calls. Legiti-mate businesses do not hide their identity when they call you.
When on the computer, if you log onto an unknown site or e-mail, they know they have a good e-mail address and will try to hack into your information.
There are firms in California, New York and Florida where scam-mers can rent a call back number by the day or week that will show on your caller-ID from any area code and number they choose.

These suggestions are just a few of the ways we can protect our-selves from scams. They are not meant to harm legitimate charities or businesses. The intent is that they may save someone from be-coming a victim of a scam. There are many types of scams and it is important for each of us to be aware that there are criminals out there who will take our money in a heartbeat. “You just can’t be too careful.”