BDA Attends the 2009 AOPA Summit – November 10th, 2009
This year BDA was an exhibitor in the 2009 AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) Annual Summit in Tampa, Florida November 5 – 7th where our CEO and founder Bo Dietl was a guest key note speaker on the issue of Identity Theft and Fraud. Any of us can become a victim of identity theft and fraud so it is important to know what you can do to safeguard yourself and limit your liabilities.
Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to describe types of crimes in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. Unlike your fingerprints, which are unique to you and cannot be used by anyone else, your personal data especially your social security number, bank account number, credit card number, and other valuable identifying data can be used for profit at your expense if they fall into the wrong hands.
In the United States and Canada many people have reported unauthorized use of credit cards and/or money taken from their bank accounts or even worse, taken over their entire identities altogether running up vast debts and/or committing crimes while using the victim’s name. Besides out of pocket losses, in many cases a victim will also suffer additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his reputation and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible. In one notorious case of identity theft, the criminal, a convicted felon, not only incurred more than $100,000 of credit card debt, obtained a federal home loan, and bought homes, motorcycles, and handguns in the victim’s name, but called his victim to taunt him saying he could continue to pose as the victim for as long as he wanted because at the time Identity Theft was not a federal crime. The criminal then filed for bankruptcy in the victim’s name. The victim and his wife spent over 4 years and more than $15,000 of their own money to restore their credit and reputation. The criminal served a brief sentence for making a false statement to procure a firearm, but was not ordered to make any restitution to the victim for any of the harm he had caused. This case and others like it prompted Congress in 1998 to create a new federal offense of Identity theft.
What can you do about Identity Theft and Fraud?
•Be wary about giving information to others and exactly what information you are asked for. Adopt a “need to know” approach to your personal data. e.g. A credit card company may need your mother’s maiden name to verify your identity in regard to your account, but did you know this is a question no one from your bank would ever ask for that information? They may have this information on file, but they will never legitimately call you to ask that.
•Beware of the amount of personal information that you have printed on your checks such as your social security number or telephone number. This information is not necessary to have printed on the actual check and can be an easy way for someone to violate your identity.
•If someone calls you on the phone or contacts you via email offering you the chance to receive a major credit card, a prize, or other valuable item but asks for your personal data such as your social security number, credit card number, or mother’s maiden name; ask them to send you a written application form. If they won’t do it tell them you are not interested. If they send it to you, review all the information carefully and make sure it’s a company or financial institution that is reputable. A way to do this would be to check with the Better Business Bureau. They can give you information about all businesses that have been the subject of complaints.
•If you are traveling have your mail held at your local post office or ask someone you know well and trust to collect and hold your mail while you are away. That also goes for newspaper delivery.
•If you are in public and you have to give someone personal information or use a calling card, make sure no one is listening or watching behind you. There are people that can watch you type in numbers and memorize them for later use. If you cannot have your privacy wait until you are in a less public location.
•Check your financial information regularly. Make sure all charges and debits are correct and accounted for. If you are not receiving monthly statements for any of your accounts, call up the institution and ask for them. If you are told your statements are being mailed to an unauthorized address, tell the institution immediately that you did not authorize this.
•Ask periodically for your credit report. This report will list all of the accounts opened under your name and will provide in indication if something is not right.
•When you throw statements or credit card applications away, make sure you shred everything. Once your garbage is on the street it is public domain and anyone is allowed to go through it. This is what is called “dumpster diving”. These people can obtain an enormous amount of information on you and your family by these means.
•Maintain all of your records. Even though financial institutions are required to keep copies of your checks and transactions for five years, you should retain all statements and checks for at least a year, if not more. If you need to dispute a particular check or transaction, those bearing your signatures will be more immediately accessible. If you take the precautions described above, you are still vulnerable and may become a victim of identity theft. If you think you have become a victim, act immediately to minimize damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation.
The Federal Trade Commission
The Social Security Administration
Trans Union