Earlier this summer, two Temple employees contacted the human resources department to file reports for theft of identity and credit card information.
In order to prevent faculty and students from falling victim to identity theft, Campus Safety Services has issued several precautions that individuals should take to deter criminals from obtaining personal information.
The state of Pennsylvania is ranked as 24th in the country for the highest cases of identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Data Clearinghouse 2005, there were 7,908 in-state identity-theft victims last year.
The data also listed Philadelphia as the first-ranked Pennsylvanian city, with a total of 1,795 victims in 2005.
Pittsburgh and Allentown ranked second and third respectively for the highest rates of identity theft last year.
Detective Cecil Scott of Campus Safety Services warns employees and students that identity theft is a difficult process to overcome after an individual is victimized.
“Be aware of the location of your ID, and never carry your Social Security card in your wallet,”Scott said.
He also encourages students to carry their personal belongings with them at all times.
“Leaving bags unattended with wallets inside can lead to identity theft,” Scott said.
When a driver license or any other form of identification is stolen, personal information such as address and date of birth becomes valuable to thieves.
The convenience of online shopping is also problematic because of the increased cases of online-identity theft. Internet hackers and unsecured websites can create easy availability to personal information.
According to Scott, thieves prey on personal data that may provide essential information necessary for exploiting credit card information, which is why Scott is an advocate for education on identity theft. He said he believes educating the community on identity theft can serve as a preventative tool against it.
Chief Information Security Officer Ken Ihrer issued a notice to the human resources department regarding incidents of identity theft on campus. In the notice, Ihrer urged faculty and students to be mindful in the care of personal data.
According to Scott, minimizing one’s risk for theft of identity is possible. Understanding what identity theft is and the detrimental effects it can cause to individual finances can lower the chances of being victimized.
“Crime has outgrown law enforcement, and the community needs to be aware that people do bad things,” Scott said.
By federal law, U.S. citizens are legally entitled to a free annual credit report. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are credit unions that offer these credit reports.
Campus Safety Services also have forms available
for faculty and students to file in case their identity has been stolen.
For further information on identity theft and how to minimize your risk, visit www.ftc.gov, and www.temple.edu/hr.
Brittany Diggs can be reached at email@example.com.