Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

College students: Beware of identity thieves

News you can use

After attending a special summit this summer at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy, I published a series of columns about identity theft. In my first piece, I wrote, “Senior citizens are prey for identity thieves for many reasons according to Ivey. Susceptible seniors are intimidated by, and therefore refuse to use computers. Some are senile, too gullible, too trusting. They are affluent and have nest eggs, and because identity theft is a crime driven by greed, seniors are desirable targets. The thieves know all too well that when victimized, seniors are much less willing to pursue the case fearing involvement and possible retaliation. So their crimes go un-reported.”

However, the main presenter at the summit, Special Agent Wayne Ivey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement cautioned that “No one is immune.” That includes the young.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) reports that during 2009, young people aged 20 to 29 nationwide filed the highest number of identity theft complaints. The department is concerned about young victims, especially college students, and rightfully so.

The 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by Javelin Strategy & Research discovered that 18 to 24 year olds are the slowest to detect identity fraud. The report states, “Millennials (consumers aged 18 to 24 years old) take nearly twice as many days to detect fraud, compared to other age groups, and thus are fraud victims for longer periods of time. Millennials were found to be the least likely group to monitor accounts regularly and take advantage of monitoring programs offered by financial institutions.”

“Identity thieves don’t care if you’re a struggling student and don’t have a penny to your name. Sometimes all they want is to exploit your clean credit record,” says Angie Barnett, President and CEO of the Greater Maryland Better Business Bureau.

School is back in session. College students away from home share living arrangements in dormitories. Not all personal belongings are under lock and key. It’s a perfect scenario for identity thieves.

The Wisconsin DATCP urges college students to take precautions to avoid becoming victimized.

Check your credit report on a regular basis to see if there are any unexplainable debts or creditors. Free credit reports can be obtained from any of the three credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by calling 1-877-322-8228 or online at

Your mail is critical, one of the easiest and most popular targets of identity thieves. Shred or dispose of mail in a safe manner. Open all junk mail before disposing. A pre-approved credit card offer could be filled out by someone else in your name. Want to opt out of getting pre-approved credit card offers? Call toll-free 1-888-5OPTOUT (567-8688) or by go to  

Have sensitive mail sent to your parents’ home or a PO Box.

Review your bills and bank statements immediately for unauthorized expenditures or withdrawals. Report them immediately to your bank or credit card company. If you pay bills online, check your account periodically.

Do not leave written personal numbers, user names, or passwords where someone can steal them. Retaining this information to memory is best.

Beware of phishing scams used by thieves attempting to get you to divulge personal information over the telephone. Special Agent Ivey gave this advice at the identity theft summit. Ask yourself, why would a company I do business with every day suddenly need my private information? DATCP warns, “Never give out personally identifiable information unless you are the one who initiated the contact.”

Place firewall, virus, spam, and spyware protection on your computer. Never leave your computer on unattended. The 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report found that “Millennials were the most likely group to take action such as installing anti-malware software when they discover fraud.”

For more information about identity theft, visit

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