Exponential Rise in Identity Theft Indicates Need for Education
MCLEAN, Va., Sep 24, 2003 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Twenty-seven million
Americans have been victims of identity theft in the last five years,
according to the Federal Trade Commission. While identity theft could be
anything from a hacker breaking into your online checking account to a thief
using a stolen check, it is most often reported as credit card fraud (forty-
two percent of incidents). To help combat this growing problem, leading credit
card provider Capital One and noted author Robert Hammond, author of the book,
Identity Theft, How to Protect Your Most Valuable Asset have joined forces to
increase awareness and inform Americans on how to prevent identity theft and
what to do if they do become a victim.
"While credit cards offer a great deal of convenience to consumers, it is
important to realize what can happen if they fall into the wrong hands.
Capital One helps by guaranteeing 100% fraud protection on any charges that
are not made by the card holder," said Diana Don, Director of Financial
Education at Capital One. "With the increase in identity theft, it is
crucial to arm consumers with the knowledge to prevent fraud, and the tools to
recover if they do become a victim."
"Most Americans don't believe they could become a victim of identity
theft," said Hammond. "But what they don't know is that a growing number of
identity theft crimes are committed by friends or family members. We're
working to educate Americans on the realities of this crime, and provide them
with simple tips to reduce their risk of becoming a victim."
Avoiding Identity Theft
Both Hammond and Don assert that one of the keys to preventing identity
theft is awareness, and encourage individuals to pay attention to their
billing cycles and contact their creditors if bills do not arrive on time.
Additionally, credit card users should know that identity theft is not
committed just by anonymous hackers from a far away computer. In fact,
according to the Federal Trade Commission, approximately 15% of individuals
who reported identity theft were victimized by someone they knew: five percent
of individuals were impacted by family members; two percent by friends or
neighbors; one percent by an associate from work and five percent were known
to the victim in some other capacity totaling 24,272 consumers.
"People should always be protective of personal information," said
Hammond. "Never leave credit cards, credit card bills or solicitations lying
around -- keep them in a safe place, or better yet, shred them."
Also, Hammond implores individuals to be extremely careful when selecting
pin numbers. He strongly advises against using personal information that
people know such as your birthday or street address. Also, for added security,
delete your social security number from your driver's license.
"Consumers should never write down their passwords or carry them in a
wallet or post them under a computer keyboard," says Hammond, "as criminals
know where to look for it."
"Combating identity theft has been a passion of mine for years," said
Robert Hammond. "I am proud to work with Capital One and lead the charge to
educate consumers about this devastating crime."
If You Become a Victim:
Report Back. Contact your creditors to close any fraudulent accounts that
were opened in your name and notify all three national credit reporting
agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
Review and React. Obtain copies of your credit reports and ensure that no
additional accounts have been opened in your name and follow-up with the fraud
departments at the credit bureaus by sending them the disputed amounts in
writing. Ensure that you order a new copy of your credit report every six
months to verify that no fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name.
Keep Details. It is extremely important to keep records of your
correspondence with the creditors, the credit bureaus as well as the local
police. You never know when you may be called upon to provide evidence.
Capital One offers an "Identity Theft Fraud Action Tracking Sheet",
www.capitalone.com/credit101/fraud/FraudActionForm.doc to help track actions
taken to handle the situation.
About Capital One
Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation
(NYSE: COF) (http://www.capitalone.com/) is a holding company whose principal
subsidiaries include: Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., which offer
consumer lending products, and Capital One Auto Finance, Inc., which offers
auto loan products. Capital One's subsidiaries collectively had 45.8 million
managed accounts and $60.7 billion in managed loans outstanding as of June 30,
2003. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest providers of
MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. Capital One trades on the New
York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 500
SOURCE Capital One Financial Corporation
Diana Don of Capital One, +1-703-720-2371, or
firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jennifer Butler of MS&L, +1-212-468-3392, or
email@example.com, for Capital One