Identity Theft Hits the FTC

The FTC Isn’t Immune to Identity Theft Issues

As if the personal information of 26.5 million veterans being stolen wasn’t bad enough, now it appears that even the FTC isn’t immune from identity theft issues. If the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency that supposed to protect us from identity theft, can fall victim to identity theft problems, where does that leave the rest of us?

More Stolen Laptops

Lately it seems as if stolen laptops have played a major role in identity theft risks. That’s the case once again, but this time the laptops that were stolen belonged to the Federal Trade Commission.

On Thursday, June 22, two laptops belonging to the Federal Trade Commission were stolen from a locked vehicle. The personal information of one hundred and ten people was stored on those laptops including names, social security numbers and even some numbers for the financial accounts of those people. Obviously, the theft of these laptops put those people at a high risk of identity theft.

Fortunately, the FTC did the right thing and notified all one hundred and ten people that their information had been compromised and they are providing those people with one year of free credit monitoring services. If only all companies were as responsible as the FTC.

A Step Further

Unfortunately when things like this happen, most companies say “oh well” and promise to be more careful in the future. The Federal Trade Commission is taking things a step further. They’re not just providing the victims with credit monitoring services to help them ensure they don’t fall victim to identity theft, but they’re actually implementing a policy that would require anyone’s personal information to be removed from laptops before any laptops could be removed from FTC property.

Take Note

We can actually learn something from this incident with the FTC. If they can fall victim to this type of crime, we definitely can. If you tend to carry your laptop around with you and that laptop has any of your personal information on it, don’t leave your laptop unattended or in plain sight. Laptops can lead to serious identity theft risks and everyone who has a laptop should take precautionary measures to protect it.

Comments

I recently found several hundred names and SS numbers on an old Dbase database diskette. This leads me to believe that there have been hundreds or thousands or more of ID thefts have been allowed because of lax treatment of hard disk and other media when an old computer is replaced. When an old PC is replaced, the hard disk and other media should always be wiped clean (not just erased) with a program such as Disk Nuke that will write over the data and permanently erase the disks.

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