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Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

• Before you dispose

• Before you dispose of a computer, delete all the personal information itstored. Deleting files using the keyboard or mouse commands or reformattingyour hard drive may not be enough because the files may stay on the computer’shard drive, where they may be retrieved easily. Use a “wipe” utility programto overwrite the entire hard drive.• Look for website privacy policies. They should answer questions aboutmaintaining accuracy, access, security, and control of personal informationcollected by the site, how the information will be used, and whether it willbe provided to third parties. If you don’t see a privacy policy – or if youcan’t understand it – consider doing business elsewhere.For more information, see Site-Seeing on the Internet: A Traveler’s Guide to Cyberspace,a publication from the FTC at ftc.gov.34 Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

APPENDIXIT’S THE LAWFederal LawThe Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, enacted by Congress inOctober 1998 (and codified, in part, at 18 U.S.C. §1028) makes identity thefta federal crime.Under federal criminal law, identity theft takes place when someone “knowinglytransfers, possesses or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identificationof another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, or in connectionwith, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or thatconstitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law.”Under this definition, a name or Social Security number is considered a “meansof identification.” So is a credit card number, cellular telephone electronicserial number, or any other piece of information that may be used alone orin conjunction with other information to identify a specific individual.Violations of the federal crime are investigated by federal law enforcementagencies, including the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the U.S. Postal InspectionService, and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General.Federal identity theft cases are prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.For the purposes of the law, the FCRA defines identity theft to apply toconsumers and businesses.Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft 35

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