The Center for Identity Theft at the University of Texas recently held a conference on identity theft.  Over 10 million consumers a year become victims of identity theft.  Children are also at risk for identity theft.  An estimated 1 million children become identity theft victims every year.  From the cradle to the grave – studies show an estimated 800,000 to 2 million dead Americans’ personal information is used fraudulently by identity thieves.

The UT Center for Identity Theft conference addressed the size of the identity theft problem.  Also, at the conference, attendees discussed tips to prevent identity theft.  Attendees included representatives from Verizon.  The company publishes an annual Data Breach Investigative Report.  Peter Tippett, from Verizon, compiles the report. 

According to Tippett, the vast majority of data stolen is stolen because of a password.  Most people, and companies, use basic passwords.  Longer more complex passwords that are changed frequently may not totally prevent stolen passwords.  Why?  Because of the use of malware and hacking yields recorded key strokes (i.e., key loggers).  When identity thieves can see your key strokes, it doesn’t matter how long your password is! 

In Tippett’s analogy, he compares seatbelts to passwords.  For example, seatbelts decrease the risk of a fatality in a car wreck by half.  However, just because the car manufacturer makes the seatbelts stronger does not necessarily mean there will be not be any fatality car wrecks.  Instead, Tippett noted that car manufacturers added air bags.  Thus, a second layer of protection is created for occupants of the car. 

Additional verification measures should be implemented to protect consumers.  A bank could call you on your home when an account transfer is about to take place and verify the consumer initiated the transaction.  Similarly, the consumer may receive a text on her cell phone verifying the transaction. The additional cost is minimal, and the technology is readily available to businesses. 

Cell phones and credit cards can add another layer of protection for consumers. Cell phones locations are made available to the network provider.  The location of the cell phone can be compared with the location of the transaction.  Likewise, smart credit cards can provide a location.  If the location of your smart card is different from the location of the credit card being used, then it may be a fraudulent transaction and the credit card company is in the best position to stop the unauthorized charge.


We represent victims of identity theft.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides identity theft victims with rights under federal law.  For example, identity theft victims have the right to two free credit reports in a 12 month time period.  This right is in addition to your right to a free annual disclosure.  Want to learn more?  Contact FCRA attorney Micah Adkins 24/7 at 1-800-263-9091 for a free case review.