Detecting and Protecting your Digital Footprint: ID Theft and You–Yes, You!
Back in December, I blogged about Making–and Protecting–your Digital Footprint: Do you Care? Even a Little Bit??, noting that even though I am online quite a bit, I still consider myself one of “The Concerned and Careful” type, especially concerning personal information available about myself and my family online and take steps to proactively limit and/or keep a watchful eye of our online data. As a previous victim of identity fraud, I must say that it changes your perspectives somewhat. Anyway, according to the very interesting and earlier-mentioned Pew Internet & American Life Project’s “Digital Footprints” report from last December, one in five online adults (21%) fall into this “Concerned and Careful” category, so I know that I am not standing alone.
Well, I said in my earlier post that I would return to this topic, and I do so today because of two reasons: one, I just read my fellow Library Garden blogger and friend Amy Kearns’ funny and enlightening Facebook post yesterday about our “digital” and “real” lives colliding, and about me stalking her in Princeton (OK, she was only joking about the stalking part–no really, she was joking). I have to say that, because since showing a journalist during an interview how easy I could find info on her, she quoted me in her US1 article when I jokingly said, “Now I can stalk you.” (note that the link to my Feb. 2008 website on this topic is included, but the article accidentally hyperlinked a period at the end of the sentence, so remove the period from the URL — it should be http://www.kn.sbc.com/wired/fil/pages/liststudentpe3.html (Personal Profiles and Other Publicly Available Information: An Internet Hotlist on Detecting and Protecting Your Digital Footprint)
Second reason to return to this topic: Rider University’s Center for Business Forensics hosted a free seminar focusing on the major issues surrounding identity theft and fraud, offering to the public insight into the widespread, varying, and serious nature of identity theft. It was well attended and there were a lot of questions, especially since the expert panel consisted of detectives, a VP in banking, and professor in health information management, and my good friend–and Rider’s very own web expert, blogger, and manager of information technology–John LeMasney, who, incidentally, already placed his April Google Docs presentation online for us (another detective also joined the panel not originally listed on the website advertisement, Detective Tracy McKeown, and Investigator Bethany Schussler was unable to make it). This seminar was led by Dr. J. Drew Procaccino, Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems, who has researched identity theft, biometrics and smart card technologies and co-authored an extensive survey of smart-card technologies published by Elsevier/Academic Press in 2004 (see Drew’s directory page above).
I could tell from the many questions asked of the excellent presenters that there is a lot of misinformation out there on the different types of identity theft, the scope of people who commit this type of theft, the trends, and what we can do about better detecting and preventing this theft. Three blogs mentioned in their handout to help us keep up with the latest and greatest scams, schemes, and trends related to ID theft are:
I would like to add three of my favorite sites (also briefly mentioned in their handout) that I regularly use and direct interested people to for great information, found on my previously mentioned workshop website along with other related information, such as notable social networking sites, personal information search engines, and other online identity and privacy info sites:
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse — http://www.privacyrights.org/
Fighting Back Against Identity Theft — http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
Identity Theft Resource Center — http://www.idtheftcenter.org/
OK, still not sure if you should care, or if the whole thing is even worth considering? If that is true, then my guess is that you did not look at any of the blogs or sites mentioned above, yet. At least try doing this–take the ID theft test and/or the PC info safety quiz from the Identity Theft Resource Center.
If you are not happy with your scores, then, reread this post and follow the links when you have some time to do something to help yourself and others. You will be glad that you did!
Remember, just as the experts will tell you, following your digital footprint and obtaining your personal info is easy to do if you are not aware, so easy even a caveman….well, you get the picture! ;)