Risk management specialist addresses the LaPlace Rotary Club

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 7, 2007


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – Imagine going to your mailbox and seeing a letter from a local hospital, where you never had gone to have any problems taken care of.

Imagine your shock when you open the letter, and see a bill totaling $40,000 in your name, for a kidney transplant that you certainly never had.

Katrina Albert, a risk management specialist who offers advice on identity theft, said that story and many others like it are happening every day, due to the rapid rise of identity theft in this country.

&#8220Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America,” she said during a speaking engagement with the LaPlace Rotary Club this past week. &#8220And it’s not just about getting your credit cards anymore.”

Albert told another story about a woman from Xavier University in New Orleans who had her identity stolen so someone could take an AIDS test anonymously. The result was that the woman now has a positive AIDS test on her record, which she has spent months trying to get rid of.

&#8220Identity theft affects 10 million people every year,” Albert said. &#8220And it’s a matter of trying to be more careful with the ways you allow your identity to be used. In this day and age that can be hard, especially with the Internet, but you just have to be as careful as you can when people want I.D. for things.”

Albert said there are five areas of identity theft that individuals should be aware of:

1) Medical ID theft, which is the fastest growing problem due to the high cost of medical and health care.

2) Social Security theft, which has grown substantially due to the increase in illegal immigrants, who are trying to find legal identification to enter the country. Currently, she said, seven million illegal are using the Social Security numbers of other people.

3) Criminal I.D. theft.

4) Driver’s License I.D. theft, which Albert said is one of the easiest things to duplicate due to the Internet.

5) Financial I.D. theft. This is the largest area of identity theft with 23 to 30 percent of all cases.

&#8220From birth we are data based, and that makes it easy for criminals to find ways to get your identity,” Albert added.

She said there is a new law which has stiffer penalties for identity theft, and another law is being considered that will force businesses to disintegrate records.

&#8220Thieves are getting more brazen,” Albert said. &#8220So it’s a matter of people being more careful with their identity. That’s all you can do to avoid it.”