The Best way to Prevent an Identity theft is to Prepare for one!

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The best way to prevent an an identity theft is to prepare for it. Just as we need to take measures to prepare for hurricanes and the effects of Mother Nature, the same is true for Identity theft.

I live in a state prone to hurricanes and each year when hurricane season arrives, we take all the necessary precautions to lessen the impact if one strikes. We make sure we have batteries, food and water on hand and that our important personal papers and documents are in waterproof containers.

We hope and pray a hurricane never strikes but nevertheless, we need to prepare as if it will. If we take that same pro-active stance when it comes to identity theft, we will certainly lessen the impact one occurs!

The East Cost is currently in the peak of hurricane season and the Identity Theft Resource Center recently released some tips and warnings to prepare for Mother Nature and predators;

Double Disasters: Mother Nature and Identity Theft Present a "One-Two Punch"

San Diego, CA. (August 27, 2008): As the Southeast enters into what is commonly referred to as Hurricane Season, the ITRC would like to make consumers aware of the inherent dangers that may occur during this chaotic time. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, "some 90% of all presidentially declared disasters are weather related." NOAA also said that we can expect an above-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season in 2008. Taking a few minutes today to create an action plan might help you avoid future identity theft-related situations.

Are you prepared to evacuate with your personal identifying and valuable papers?

Do you know what to take with you?

Keep copies of birth certificates, driver's licenses, Social Security cards, death certificates, bank account numbers, insurance papers and any other vital papers for each family member in a locked box or a large, waterproof plastic bag. Place the papers in your car only when you are ready to leave. Unfortunately, thieves sometimes loot cars parked in driveways during times of evacuation. You will need those papers to identify yourself with various assistance groups and insurance companies. In the hands of thieves, you might lose more than property; you could lose the ability to prove your own identity.

If you end up in a shelter, do not allow those papers to leave your sight or person. If you need to tape them to the inside of your clothing, do so. Unfortunately identity thieves know that the chaos of many people living in close quarters is a crime waiting to happen.

Businesses also need to consider data security.

Are you: Flood proof? Tornado proof? High winds proof? Absent proof?

If you evacuate, what safeguards are in place to protect the integrity of the data you have collected?
In prior years, broken file cabinets were found more than a half mile away from the office building where they were housed. Papers were found flying around for blocks. It would be preferable if all papers with proprietary and personal identifying information were scanned into your computer systems and encrypted. These systems and networks should be encrypted so that if they are stolen or moved by a hurricane, no one without the encryption key can view the information secured in the hard drive.

You might also want to consider a back-up system in an area that is typically not included in the same disaster zone. That system should also be encrypted. Computer hard drives can also be pulled as a pro-active measure to transport your data. Please note, you are now responsible for protecting that data in transit. Those people who have entrusted their information to you depend on your best efforts.

Scam artists will be quick to set up telephone scams. You may get a call from a "group collecting money for relief services." During a crisis, most relief agencies are busy attending to the immediate needs of victims. Only donate if you initiate the call to a well-established group. Hang up on any telephone solicitors asking for donations.

Other con artists will pretend to phone from a company you do business with and that "lost your data." Think about it - if they lost your information, how could they call you? Never provide bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers. This is always a scam. Companies will not contact you this way.

For other tips about emergency kits and physical safety, visit the American Red Cross and FEMA websites. You can also find out more information on Disasters and Identity Theft at the Identity Theft Resource website


For additional scam alerts and warnings on predators at times of disasters see earlier blogs; Victims of Floods Warned of Scammers AND Scams

To take steps to prevent id theft see earlier blog: See blog, video and tips on what you can do to protect yourself see earlier blog:  ...What should I do?

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