The Checkout

Test Your ID Theft Smarts

Your identity has been stolen--what should you do?

If the stolen information includes your driver's license or other government-issued ID, all you need to do is create a facsimile using a recent color photo. True or False?

If someone has stolen information about your financial accounts, it's best to wait several weeks to see what they do with it before taking action. True or False?

One of the best ways to protect your identity is using online passwords only you would know like your mother's maiden name or the last four digits of your Social Secuirty number. True or False.

Indeed, all of these are false. And you'll learn why in a series of entertaining quizzes and educational material on the Federal Trade Commission's OnGuardOnline. The quizzes, one of which includes the questions above, offer tips on phishing, spam, spyware and other online scams, part of the agency's campaign for safe computing.

Check it out--and meanwhile, here are the right answers:

You need to immediately contact any agency that issued a stolen document to cancel it and get a replacement.

You need to contact your credit card companies and bank to close your accounts and open new ones.

And crooks can often find out your Social Security number and mother's maiden name through various sources. It's best to use random numbers and letters--and memorize them.

By  |  January 11, 2006; 8:55 AM ET Consumer Tips
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Anyone who has been the victim of identity theft should also file a police report immediately. Many other steps you have to take after being a victim (including getting information caused by the theft off your credit report) require you to have filed a police report.

Posted by: C. Martinez-Ross | January 11, 2006 1:44 PM

The idea that an identity can be stolen is a fraud. We should hold lenders to be responsible for their money and to know who is getting it. If they give it to the wrong person - too bad. Their loss.

Posted by: Gary Masters | January 11, 2006 3:10 PM

"The idea that an identity can be stolen is a fraud"????? Better hope that a "Gary Masters" who has your DL# and SS# never goes on a nationwide crime spree, otherwise you're going to be in a deep world of hurt when some trooper calls in your plates.

Posted by: George Leroy Tirebiter | January 11, 2006 5:11 PM

You suggesting to immediately contact any agency who or which issued a falce document. But wouldn't it be dangerous for me if the agency issued a false document purposely and the agency is one of the US Federal government,for example? Truly yours,m.Yu.&business.

Posted by: M.Yu.&businnes | January 11, 2006 7:28 PM

I have had my Identity stolen twice in the past 4 years, and I am a very private person. I can attest that ID Theft is the largest white collar crime in north America, and I'm not alone. Just ask the other 10 Million victims in just the last two years if they think that this is a bunch of garb- let alone the 5 Billion dollars we lost as a whole. Mr. Masters, I read your comment and understand that you have yet to be victimized by this epidemic. I strongly encourage you to take a look a a website that can and will open your eyes to the all to real threat of IDENTITY THEFT at
Good Luck!

Posted by: ID Theft Victim | January 12, 2006 3:58 PM

I'm sure that Gary Masters must know that millions of people have had their identities fraudulently used by others. I believe the "fraud" of which he speaks is how financial institutions are able to effectively hold identity theft victims accountable for activities fraudulently done in their names when it is those institutions who aren't sufficiently careful when issuing money or credit to the wrong person. I believe he is saying that it is those institutions that should be responsible for assuring that they are really dealing with who they think they are. The person whose identity is "stolen" should not be the one to suffer for something they had no part in. It is much easier and cheaper, however, for banks or credit card companies to claim (fraudulently) that this mostly isn't their problem and pass it on to the "victim." ID theft victims are the victims in this game because financial institutions prefer it that way, make it that way, and seemed to have convinced the rest of us that it just is that way. This is the fraud of which Mr. Masters speaks. Why do we let them get away with it?

Posted by: Anton P | September 21, 2006 11:43 AM

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