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IDENTITY THIEVES FIND NEW WAYS TO STEAL PERSONAL INFOMATION

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Washington, DCAmericans go to great lengths to protect against being robbed.  We lock our doors, install alarm systems in our homes and cars, and insure our valuables.  Many, however, do not pay an equal amount of attention to the crime that impacted more than eight million consumers last year, the crime of identity theft.

Recognizing that education is the key to prevention, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), and National Association of Triads (NATI) are proud to join forces bringing the fourth national Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW) to communities across the country October 16-22.

“For the 11th year in a row, identity theft remained the number

one most reported complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, further underscoring the need for this campaign,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.   “

Criminals continually find new ways to rob us of our good name and good credit, making it critical for Americans to stay updated on the latest protection techniques.”

Child identity theft is an example of one of the new ways crooks have found to wreck havoc in peoples lives, sometimes before they are even born. Children’s Social Security numbers are 51 times more likely to be stolen than an adult’s.  Why?  The crime goes unnoticed for years, usually not detected until the child attempts to obtain credit, applies for a job, college or government benefits.  By then, the damage is done.

Consider the following statistics from a joint report based on research conducted by AllClear ID and the Carnegie Mellon Cylab:

  • Youngest victim only five months old
  • 54% under the age of 12
  • Largest debt: $725,000
  • Two-year-old in bankruptcy
  • Nine-year-old in debt collections

The hosts of Protect Your Identity Week welcome AllClear ID as a 2011sponsor, bringing their significant identity theft protection expertise to consumers, including information specific to child ID theft.

Thieves are also stealing the personal data left on old cell phones.  “People are eager to cast aside their old phone in favor of the newest gadget, often forgetting that the old phone held passwords, account numbers, PIN numbers and other personal information that is a goldmine to a thief,” continued Cunningham.

Since the irresponsible disposal of cell phones provides another avenue for thieves to access personal information, 911 Cell Phone Bank joined the PYIW campaign, making it simple and convenient for consumers to safely rid themselves of unused cell phones at participating events. The phones will be wiped clean by 911 Cell Phone Bank, and then returned to law enforcement officials in communities across the country for distribution free of charge to those most in need, groups such as senior citizens and abuse victims.

People can have a false sense of security about shredding documents at home, not realizing that a clever thief can piece materials back together, particularly if they have been strip cut.  Cintas, a North American AAA NAID and PCI-DSS Compliant document management provider, is once again sponsoring PYIW by offering free shredding at participating events.  Consumers can bring their personal documents for shredding and rest assured that they have been properly and permanently destroyed.

There will be more than 100 Protect Your Identity Week events across America from October 16-22, offering ID theft protection handouts, workshops, speakers, cell phone collection, credit report reviews and shredding. To keep from becoming the next victim of identity theft, visit www.ProtectYourIDNow.org where you’ll find educational resources, steps for victims, and a map to locate the PYIW event closest to you.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC Members annually help more than three million consumers through close to 800 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit www.nfcc.org.  Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NFCCDebtAdvice, on Twitter: twitter.com/NFCCDebtAdvice, on YouTube: www.YouTube.com/NFCC09 and our blog: http://financialeducation.nfcc.org/.

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