Forbes hosting identity theft workshop Thursday

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 8, 2005

It’s easy to think it won’t happen to you.

But committing identity theft is much easier than most people realize and has grown into massive, costly crime nationwide. The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft costs the average victim nearly $7,000.

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., is taking steps to help his constituents protect themselves from becoming identify theft victims.


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At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Forbes is sponsoring a workshop for participants to learn about protecting their identity and what to do in case they become victims of the crime.

The free event is being held at Cedar Road Elementary School, 1605 Cedar Road, Chesapeake. Representatives from the FTC and state Attorney General’s office will be on hand to answer questions.

Tips to protect against identity theft include:

-Secure mail and trash. An identify thief may pick through discarded mail to find personal information, including discarded credit care offers. Shred or tear any documents with personal data before throwing them away.

-Don’t carry your Social Security Card. Only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary and use alternative forms of identification when possible. For example, when you have your driver’s license renewed, have the Division of Motor Vehicles issue an alternative identification number.

-Create unique passwords on credit cards, bank and telephone accounts and change them periodically. Experts advise against using &uot;obvious&uot; passwords: your mother’s maiden name, your birthday or pet’s name.

-Pay attention to billing cycles. If you haven’t received a bill on time, it could mean an identify thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address. Keep in contact with your creditors when bills don’t arrive in a timely manner.

-Be wary of promotional scams asking for personal information. Don’t give out any personal information over the phone or through the mail or Internet.