The news about hackers breaking into a UCLA computer system was an awakening call to those who are concerned about data base security.
It is important to know what to do to protect yourself from identity theft. Experts in consumer privacy and data security offer some advice.
Hackers are looking for names, dates of births, and Social Security numbers. These are the main information that can help them apply for credit cards. Once they get a hold of a person’s credit card number, they can use this information to take out loans on cars, houses, and any thing else they so desire.
If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, you must immediately contact one or all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. After reporting to them, they will be alerted and you will be called if someone tries to open new credit under your name. All three of these credit bureaus can be accessed through
If someone has stolen your identity, contact the police and the Federal Trade Commission. The trade commission’s website is
A simple way to protect your personal information online is to shop only on websites that start with “https,” not just “http.” The added “s” assures that personal data is encrypted. Do not give anymore information than is needed to purchase online. For example, your social security number should not be required. Stan Stahl, president of Citadel Information Group, a Los Angeles-based information security firm, recommends having a separate credit card with a lower credit limit for online shopping.
“It’s much better to have to deal with $500 fraud than a $5,000 fraud,” Stahl said.
Colleges and universities are doing their share in protecting student data. Many of these institutions are requiring students to change their passwords more often and install anti-virus and firewall software before they connect to campus networks.
Some colleges, including UCLA, are gradually not using Social Security numbers as school ID and restricting their use to when they are required by law, such as for financial aid and payroll.
Unfortunately, it is believed by some, that not enough is being done on the federal level to prevent identity theft. What happened at UCLA when hackers gained access to 800,000 personal records of people connected to the university, is a good example of this problem.
The good news is that many states, California being one of them, are taking steps to protect consumers. For example, in 2007, California businesses will no longer be allowed to print full credit card numbers on receipts.
www.annualcreditreport.com. A call to all the financial companies where you have your accounts should be notified of your theft. Also, you can call the Identity Theft Resource Center at (858)693-7935.www.ftc.gov/idtheft or call them at (877)438-4338. Obtain a copy of your credit report and check it for fraudulent charges. File a report with your local police and obtain a copy of the police report