ID Theft victimizes millions each year

When something happens 10 million times per year, it’s worth noting, and in recent years, that’s how many victims of identity theft have reported the abuse to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Further, ID theft has remained the number one complaint to the FTC for the past five years.

It can start the old-fashioned way with lost or stolen wallets, pilfered mail, or through documents thrown out by you or a business (dumpster diving). A consumer may also be victimized through more high-tech crimes including a data breach, computer virus, phishing or an Internet scam. Once the personal information is stolen, the crime can result in check fraud, credit card fraud, financial identity theft, criminal identity theft, governmental identity theft and medical identity theft.

Recognizing that awareness and education are essential tools necessary for consumers to protect themselves against ID theft, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has teamed with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) to host the third annual Protect Your Identity Week October 17-23. The week will consist of more than 175 local events in communities across the nation where consumers can take part in educational workshops, credit report reviews, responsibly recycle unused cell phones and have their personal documents shredded for free.

Consumers are urged to visit ProtectYourIDNow.org where they can locate events in their area, find useful prevention tips, victim resources, and take a quiz to assess their own risk of becoming the next identity theft victim. Advice in Spanish is also available at cuidesuidentidad.org.

As part of Protect Your Identity Week, Cintas Corporation, national shredding partner for PYIW, is providing free document destruction at events nationwide with the goal of making the Guinness Book of World Records for the most paper shredded in a 24-hour period.

Additionally, Intersections, Inc., a leader in consumer and corporate identity theft management services that also provides the award-winning Identity Guard® brand, serves as a presenting sponsor of Protect Your Identity Week 2010, and Wireless Alliance, national electronic device recycling partner, is providing free cell phone disposal at many community events. MSN Money is once again serving as the national media sponsor for PYIW.

A number of national organizations are also putting their weight behind this initiative, joining the NFCC and BBB as Supporting PYIW Coalition Members. This Coalition includes: American Bankers Association Education Foundation, American Financial Services Association Education Foundation, American Payroll Association, Consumer Action, Consumer Data Industry Association, Consumer Federation of America, Credit Union National Association, Federal Reserve Board, Federal Trade Commission, FICO, Foundation for Financial Planning, Identity Theft Assistance Center, Identity Theft Resource Center, Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy, Junior Achievement USA, National Association of Triads, National Council of La Raza, National Crime Prevention Council, National Education Association Member Benefits, National Sheriffs’ Association, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Social Security Administration.

MMI  is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).  The NFCC was founded in 1951 and is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior and build capacity for its Members to deliver the highest quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC Members annually help four million consumers through more than 800 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit www.nfcc.org.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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