Respondents feel at risk for ID Theft

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s (NFCC) September web poll testing people’s attitudes toward identity theft revealed that 66 percent of more than 1,300 respondents feel at risk for identity theft.

In recent years, identity theft has claimed more than 10 million victims per year, and has been the top complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for the last five years in a row. ID theft is alive and well, and anyone who doesn’t think so is putting themselves at risk of being the next victim.

Of concern are the more than 30 percent of respondents who believe identity theft is declining or think they are immune because they’ve put one safety tip in place. These people are in definite need of education around identity theft protection.

To help meet that need, the NFCC and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) have joined together to host Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW) October 17-23. Close to 200 events are being held in communities nationwide, including free shredding, educational workshops, credit report reviews, and responsible cell phone recycling. Consumers can locate an event near them by going to the map at www.ProtectYourIDNow.org.

Additionally, the site is a resource for prevention tips, victim recovery tips, and includes the Identity Theft Risk Check quiz where individuals can assess their own personal risk of identity theft.

As part of Protect Your Identity Week, Cintas Corporation, national shredding partner for PYIW, is providing free document destruction at events across the country with the goal of making the Guinness Book of World Records for the most paper shredded in a 24-hour period. -more- Intersections, Inc., a leader in consumer and corporate identity theft management services that also provides the award-winning Identity Guard® brand, is a presenting sponsor of Protect Your Identity Week, and the Wireless Alliance, national electronic device recycling partner, is providing free cell phone disposal at many community events.

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.

The actual survey question and results are as follows:

Q: I don't think I'm at risk of being a victim of identity theft because

A. Identity theft is on the decline = 1%

B. My credit card company has systems in place that protect me = 9%

C. I don't carry my Social Security card in my wallet = 10%

D. I never open emails from unknown sources = 15% E. I do think I am at risk of ID theft = 66%

Note:  Money Management International is a member of the NFCC.  The NFCC’s September Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC Web site (www.DebtAdvice.org) from September 1-30, 2010 and answered by 1,352 individuals.

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

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