Post Classifieds

Take steps to protect identity

Staff Editorial

On April 12, 2013



The recent news of a cyber attack on a Kirkwood database serves as a stark reminder that identity theft is a serious issue and can impact anyone.

A total of 8 million people have been affected by identity theft, according to Javelin Strategy and Research, and that number is growing with each passing day.

An identity thief only requires a few pieces of confidential information before he or she can start performing fraudulent activity. With someone else's name, address and social security number, a criminal can create a bank account, open up a line of credit and begin to spend. The activity could go on for months unnoticed by the victim if he or she is not protected. By that time the thief will have already vanished.

The damage an identity thief can do is far longer-lasting than even the trails of bills left in a victim's name. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, many victims have experienced credit problems after identity theft and have been victims of scams claiming to help recover stolen funds.

Recovering a stolen identity is much more frustrating, expensive and time-consuming than taking preventative measures to help prevent the crime before it happens.

Sophisticated cyber attacks on all types of institutions that store data are not out of the ordinary. Banks, other corporations and governments have all been subject to invasion, despite having high-level security measures in place. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is in charge of investigating these matters in the United States and is overflowing with cases.

The hackers who gain access to confidential information may use it to steal someone else's identity.

There is no doubt that Kirkwood recognized the serious implications of the cyber attack. The college reacted by going above and beyond what it was legally obligated to do. Everyone who could have been affected by the breach now have the resources made available by the school to ensure that their identities are protected from identity theft.

Although there is no certainty that anyone's identity will be stolen as a result of the breach at Kirkwood, there is no harm in following the procedure as a precaution. Taking these steps is important because the threat of identity theft can come from many sources aside from the recent breach on Kirkwood's servers.

The students and other applicants who could be affected are being given the opportunity to set up credit monitoring for a year with the expense paid for by the college. Credit monitoring services will notify someone if a new account is opened in his or her name from anywhere. In the event that a prospective identity thief tries to set up a false account, it can be stopped immediately before any damage is done.

Students should take the news of the recent cyber attack as the reason for making sure their identities are protected. Following the steps to prevent fraudulent accounts from being set up will save many future headaches for someone in the event that his or her identity is stolen.


How To Protect Against Identity Theft

-Leave personal and financial documents in a safe place at home

-Shred documents containing personal information once no longer needed.

-If away from home, request a vacation hold on the mail.

-Before disposing of old computers, delete all personal information.

-Be alert to imposters online and don't click on suspicious links.

-Use firewalls and data encryption software.

-Use secure passwords on laptops and online.

-Use caution when sharing information on social media


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