Alice Campbell Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Huff, a certified identity theft risk management specialist with Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc., told attendees at a seminar sponsored by the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday afternoon that identity theft is "bigger than what we even know" and that its occurrences are projected to rise beyond 1 in every 3 people. Most people think of identity theft as solely being a financial issue with bank records and credit cards, but there are five different categories, Huff said. Those five types include: driver's license, Social Security, character/ criminal, financial and medical. A Certified Public Accountant was arrested on his doorstep in Butte for criminal charges he was falsely accused of by the criminal who committed them. The criminal had given of f icers the CPA's informat ion instead of his own, Huff said. Social Services threatened to take away a woman' s four chi ldren because her new-born baby had traces of methamphetamine in his blood stream, but the woman hadn't given birth in years. She was left with $10,000 in medical bills and a struggle to clear her name on criminal charges from the incident because a woman stole her driver's license and gave it to hospital staff before she had the baby. Confusion in medical records "can be life-altering," Huff said. A school district refused to hire a teacher after three counts of prostitution showed up on her background check. The teacher had the offenses on her record because a criminal had given her information to police. Another person was denied a job because his Social Security card was being used by a person at another company. It turned out that his Social Security card was being used actively in 37 businesses. Huff said not to "lose sleep" about Preventing identity theft because "there's no way you can prevent identity theft." "Everything that we've ever done has been put on a computer." Instead of prevention, the best thing for both businesses and individuals to do is "be proactive to reduce the risk," she said. Businesses are being held accountable for security breaches of personal information, Huff said. She added that a breach can cost a business up to 60 percent of its clients, a class-action law suit, 600 hours of employee work time spent instead trying to clear up the theft, roughly 1,600 hours of other employees' time per incident, between roughly $40,000 and $90,000 per incident in damages and restitution not to mention damage to the business' reputation.