Top 'Identity Thief' sleuth: Don't be like Jason Bateman

February 8, 2013  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - One of the nation's top cybersecurity experts says the new movie "Identity Thief" may be funny, but protecting your identity from theft doesn't have to be so difficult or dangerous.

Marcus Rogers, a former Canadian police officer and now professor at Purdue University's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, helps police around the world track down cybercriminals, including identity thieves. An identity is stolen every 60 seconds, making it the fastest growing nonviolent crime in the United States.

But Rogers says there are simple steps to take from becoming a victim like Jason Bateman's fictional character "Sandy Patterson": use unpredictable passwords, secure personal information from roommates, don't give out personal info electronically unless you solicited the contact and shred any trash that has personal information on it.

Rogers says it's wise to check billing statements for purchases you did not make and occasionally check credit reports for unexpected inquiries of your credit report. Also be on the lookout for incorrect billing addresses and judgments, liens or foreclosures of which you had no prior knowledge.

If you suspect you are a victim, be smarter than Bateman's character - notify the fraud departments of all three credit agencies, close all suspect accounts, and file a report with your local police and with police where you believe the crime occurred. You should also notify any government agencies such as the Social Security Administration and bureau of motor vehicles that have issued you identification documents. And leave the investigating - and particularly the apprehension - to police.

"I doubt any real police officer would suggest you travel cross-country to snoop out a criminal and attempt to haul them back to justice yourself. Criminals are often even more dangerous than actress Melissa McCarthy," Rogers says.

Rogers also urges not resorting to fraudulent activities as Bateman does when his character's compromised identity leaves him penniless.

"You're probably not as clever as real identity thieves, and real police are far more competent than those in a Hollywood comedy," Rogers says.

A full array of protection methods is available at http://www.cerias.purdue.edu as well as at the Federal Trade Commission website.

Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-237-7296, jschenke@purdue.edu

Source: Marcus Rogers, rogersmk@purdue.edu

Related website:
FTC Identity Theft

Note to Journalists: Marcus Rogers is available in person and via satellite, Vyvx, Skype, ISDN and phone. For more information contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, at 765-237-7296, jschenke@purdue.edu

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