me and you and a dog named id theft

“Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.”

Federal Trade Commission: Your National Resource for Identity Theft

Yep, that sounds about right. Sounds just like the call I received Friday from my bank. Someone went ahead and borrowed (stole) my debit card information and decided to buy some gas (the $3.50 kind, no doubt) in the burbs and rent some cars in Oklahoma City. Isn’t that great? And I’m left with the mess. Thankfully, I should get the whole amount back, which I’m guessing is going to be in the $500-1000 range.

But until then, I’m left wondering who took it, how they took it and how Hertz and Speedway let it happen. What a wonderful feeling. And yes, I’m extremely thankful that I’m not going thru the horror that is the aftermath of Katrina, and my thoughts are there for all of those who are living that hell right now, and I shouldn’t complain, but this is just something I didn’t want to deal with.

For those of you curious about how at risk you are, check out this report (PDF) from the Federal Trade Commission. In a ranking of identity theft victims by state (per 100,000 population), Illinois is an unhappy #11. Chicago, of course, ranks #1 in the state. In light of all that’s happened near the Gulf this past week, I decided to check on LA, MS and AL: #35, 38 and 36, respectively. Though I suspect all of the turmoil and confusion will unfortunately bring them closer to the top. Greed always feeds in times like these.

How can you protect yourself, your credit and your money? Visit the link to the FTC above. Shred all of the account, bill and receipt information before you throw it in the trash. Shred all of the credit card offers you receive. And watch your credit report more than once every 5 years.

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