"We have to make it difficult to turn identities into money," says Davis. "Law enforcement shouldn't feel like they're fighting this crime alone; if everyone took the necessary precautions, he says the crime would go away as there would be nothing to steal.
Davis is a case in point. He puts his Social Security number front and center at LifeLock.com. The tactic sounds crazy until you understand the measures he's taken to protect his identity. Using LifeLock, he protects himself by establishing fraud alerts, monitoring his credit reports, freezing his credit and blocking pre-approved credit offers. Thousands of people try to set up accounts using Davis' Social Security number. Most fail, however one person was able to obtain a payday loan. Last year, about 800,000 people were so impressed that they signed up for LifeLock's protective service.
"You don't have to purchase identity theft protection to take action, but you do need to do something," Davis explains.
Awareness is key. As Schmidt says, "If we can educate our officers who, in turn, can educate the public, we can make a difference."
Smith frequently addresses the senior community. Being proactive and educating the public is essential among senior communities, he says, because they often have money, great credit and are trusting.
"Protect yourself and your community," Ivey says. "It's not a matter of if this could happen to you. It's a matter of when - especially if you don't take steps to prevent identity theft."
"The FTC’s Web site is a one-stop national resource to learn about the crime of identity theft. It provides detailed information to help deter, detect and defend against identity theft. Visit ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft to access this resource.
"LifeLock, a proactive identity theft protection agency, has a free speaker series to educate consumers (including senior citizens, college and high school students, businesses and law enforcement) on the threats of identity theft and their individual points of vulnerability. E-mail email@example.com for more information.
Rebecca Kanable is a freelance writer specializing in law enforcement topics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.