Los Feliz Ledger Op-Ed: Learn How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Earlier this year, Target announced that 70 million credit and debit cards had been compromised by a massive data breach. The thieves targeted the retailers’ point-of-sale servers with malware that allowed them to steal credit card information in bulk. Though it was the biggest known data breach, the reality is these breaches, and the identity theft they enable, are an everyday occurrence.

According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, which maintains data on breaches, nearly 622 million consumer records have been put at risk in over 4,000 data breaches since 2005 alone. While I have sponsored legislation in Congress to put in place stronger national standards for notification of data breaches, so far Congress has failed to act.

I have also worked to increase penalties and enforcement for identity theft crimes, but the reality is that most who commit such online crimes get off scot free, in part because they frequently commit their crimes in other nations that are uncooperative with U.S. investigators. Estimates are that only around 2% of offenders end up facing a penalty or prison.

Breaches like the one at Target are far from the only way that criminals seek to get your personal information. Criminals have resorted to a plethora of techniques—some that are highly sophisticated and some of which are decidedly “low-tech.”

From the old techniques—literally pickpocketing individuals, dumpster-diving, “shoulder surfing,” meaning watching as you put in your pin to an ATM or listening into your private conversations as you give your credit card number over the phone, to the new—using email spam, hacking or breaking online passwords –- criminals will stop at nothing to get your data.

Luckily, despite the best efforts of criminals, there are ways to protect yourself.

To help you learn how to avoid being the target or victim of identity theft, I’m hosting a forum with representatives from the Federal Trade Commission, FBI, IRS, Social Security Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspector.  We’ll be discussing concrete ways to protect your identity, as well as hearing more about the efforts of federal agencies to combat this widespread and destructive crime.

The forum will be held Mon., Aug. 4th from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Witherbee Auditorium at the Los Angeles Zoo.  If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to (323) 315-5555 or (818) 450-2900 and I will hope to see you there.

Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), represents the 28th Congressional district, which includes the communities of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Echo Park and surrounding areas.

By:  Adam Schiff
Source: Los Feliz Ledger