Privacy, Identity Theft and Consumer Scams

Today's technology provides us with extraordinary benefits. It has given us the ability to conduct business online, share information about ourselves with those who live thousands of miles away and access information at the "speed of light." Unfortunately, it has also provided the same benefits to identity thieves who use someone else's personal financial information to access bank accounts and obtain credit, often destroying the life savings and good credit history of innocent victims.

As our access to information increases, our concerns about financial privacy should increase as well. Identity theft has increased so dramatically that the Federal Trade Commission has listed it as the top fraud-related consumer complaint for the past five years, with consumers reporting million of dollars lost to fraud. Millions of people are potentially at risk for identity theft. The following is provided to help you protect your financial privacy and the steps to follow if you have become an identity theft victim.

Identity Theft

Everyone has personal information (such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and social security numbers) that can be misused when in the wrong hands. A scam artist who learns any of your personal information can potentially use that to learn more of your personal information and eventually make purchases in your name. Learn how to protect yourself from identity theft.

What to do if you're a victim of Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime which generally results in fraud. If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft, you must act immediately to minimize the damage and to secure your legal rights. Fighting identity theft can be frustrating and time-consuming, but resources exist to help you.

Notice of Risk Individuals, businesses and other entities must notify consumers when there has been a security breach of computerized data containing the consumers' personal information that could result in identity theft. The law is the Notice of Risk of Personal Data Act, 10 M.R.S.A. S1346-1349. Details are available from the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.