ID Theft Survey: Are you at risk? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ID Theft Survey: Are you at risk?

January 8, 2004
Albany- Joyce Clark carries a lot important information around with her.

But she also takes precautions to avoid being a victim of identity theft.

"I shred all my invoices and important papers and stuff that we have at home," Clark said.

But how good are we at really protecting ourselves from identity theft?

"It is one of the biggest up and coming crimes," said Dougherty County Police Investigator Lt. Dennis Dawson.

He deals with these cases often. Thursday, he let us put him to the test and so did Clark and her co-workers.

The survey asks questions about how you handle your personal information like do you always carry your social security card and do you always carry more than two credit cards?

The survey also asks if you've removed yourself from credit card application mailings and if you have a cross cut shredder that shreds paper into pieces instead of strips.

So how did our survey takers do overall?

Survey taker Barbara Thornton had the best score. She's in the low vulnerability category.

"I don't use by checks for (paying bills)," Thornton said. "I use by bank card. It has my picture id on it."

Dawson is at average risk, but even he was surprised about some of the information.

"I've probably got more than five or six things with my Social Security Number on it."

Survey taker Caroline Lanier and Clark are also both at average risk. But now they're planning on doing things differently.

"I'll be carrying my checkbook less," Lanier said. "Maybe just writing one check and taking it to where I'm going."

"I'm guilty of everything else, but I will be making some changes," Clark said.

Changes that will probably protect her and keep her identity secure.

Are you a potential victim of identity theft? Here is the to find out. Answer 'yes' or 'no'. For each 'yes' answer, add the score provided at the end of the statement:

1. I use checks for shopping and carry my checkbook with me in public. (10 points)
2. I pay bills with checks and place them in my mailbox or in a corner postal box. (10 points)
3. I do not use direct deposit or electronic transfer for paychecks. (10 points)
4. I have new boxes of checks mailed to my home. (10 points)
5. I have not 'opted out' of my credit card issuers marketing programs and receive convenience checks on my account in the mail. (10 points)
6. I carry a purse or a wallet with my Social Security number. (10 points)
7. I have at least one item in my wallet with my Social Security number on it. (10 points)
8. I carry more than two (2) credit cards with and do not have copies of the front and back of each card kept safely. (5 points)
9. I do not shred bank/credit/tax information. (10 points)
10. I used a shredder, but it is not a cross-cut shredder. (5 points)
11. I have not ordered copies of my credit report within the last two years. (10 points)
12. I have not called the credit card reporting agencies' 'opt-out line' to be removed from credit card application mailings. (888-567-8688) (5 points)

Scores:
100+ points = High risk - over 1 million people became victims in 2003.
50 - 100 points = Your odds of being victimized are about average.
Below 50 points = Low vulnerability - congratulations!
Remember The number one way most identity thefts steal is by sifting through people's trash.

posted at 10:10 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com