On, July 31st, The Federal Trade Commission gave a presentation on Identity Theft for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which contained a great number of resources and tips for identity theft protection. Identity theft is a greater concern for the blind and visually impaired, as caretakers or readers have been known to steal personal information. Identity theft for the purposes of collecting government benefits is overwhelming the largest percentage of identity theft, and the crime is generally a matter of opportunity. The webinar stressed the importance of staying vigilant and maintaining a protective attitude towards personal information.
One practice for spotting identity theft is regular credit checks via a credit report. One free credit report is available per year from each of the 3 major credit reporting companies, allowing for a total of 3 free credit reports per year, which can be spread over each year to provide a good way to identify identity theft. The three companies are Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, and a central site for requesting reports from all three is available at annualcreditreport.com . Traditional protection of personal information, such as shredding unneeded documents is also a very powerful tool for protecting your identity. Upon becoming an identity theft victim, certain steps may also be taken to minimize the damage. The FTC provides an identity theft hotline, 877-438-4338 with a TTY line available at 866-653-4261. There is also an online platform for submitting complaints to the FTC, which can be found at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. A police report should also be submitted as quickly as possible when identity theft is noticed, though this step is less important when dealing with child identity theft.
Identity Theft targeting children was also highlighted as a problem, due to identity thieves going after identities with clean credit histories. Child identity theft can be easier to counter as children cannot legally enter into a contract, and uses of the stolen identity can be easily proven to be theft. Child identities are also easily stolen from pediatricians and schools, whose records are not always given the best protection. Receiving any letters about income tax or employment related to a minor should also be seen as a major warning sign. Specific resources for child identity theft can be found here on the FTC website.
For further resources on Identity theft, the federal trade commission maintains a large collection of resources, which can be viewed here. For the blind and visually impaired there are free audio files available in CD format.