Bronx residents at risk for high-tech form of theft

Bronx residents might be victims of identity theft and not even know about it. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says almost 250,000 Americans reported cases of identity theft in 2003, making it the top fraud complaint.Experts say the best advice to avoid identity theft is to use common sense. They urge consumers to never give out PIN numbers or account numbers. Passwords shouldn't be as obvious as a birthday. Other advice includes making sure no one is standing over your shoulder when using an ATM, not carrying your social security card in your wallet, and using a paper shredder to destroy old credit card bills or banking statements.FTC officials are also asking healthcare networks and universities to help combat identity theft. Insurance identification numbers and student identification numbers are sometimes simply the person's social security number. The FTC says this is putting thousands of innocent people at risk. They suggest using random numbers if possible.The FTC reports that one out of every ten Americans becomes an identity theft victim. Studies estimate that each victim will have an out of pocket expense of $200.

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