Speaker Guard Against ID Theft
Speaker: Guard against ID theft
Sunday, October 23, 2005
By Julie Brown
When Brian Sommariva worked for the attorney general's office, he went to nursing homes and senior facilities towarn about identity theft. It turns out he should have been going to college campuses.
Some 29 percent of victims are ages 18-29, Sommariva told an attentive audience Thursday at a Plymouth-Canton branch, American Association of University Women. That's because so many young adults use the Internet and other technology, which seniors are less likely to rely on.
Sommariva is founder and managing director of Design Runway in Plymouth, dealing with fraud and deterrence issues. He spoke to AAUW members and guests at Atlantis Restaurant of Plymouth, warning against identity theft.
"The whole concept with identity theft is not a new topic," he said.
He cited the movie Catch Me If You Can, and the real-life story of Frank Abagnale, a one-time young criminalwho now consults for the FBI. Some 27.3 million Americans were victims in 2003, Sommariva said, in part because of continued use of Social Security numbers for other purposes.
"Identity theft is becoming more of a global problem."
He urged the listeners to become better educated consumers. Credit card companies have heeded the problem, Sommariva said.
"You know why. Because it's coming out of their pocket. They've taken this issue and done a good job with it." Police involvement now is minimal, although part of the problem is embarrassment of victims who consequently don't report crimes. "You'll be lucky to find a prosecutor who wants to take the case."
Money from identity theft funds other criminal operations, he added, including terrorism. It's tough to write lawsfor crimes that are unknown, he said.
Detroit-Warren-Livonia ranked 40th nationwide in frequency of identity theft complaints, Sommariva said. He noted that criminals engage in "Dumpster diving" and mail theft, among others, as ways to obtain personal information.
"Always keep an eye on your accounts. Call your bank, figure out what's going on." In over half of cases, the victim knows the perpetrator, he said. Correcting the problem takes the average victim 28 hours of full-time work, a considerable amount.
He urged his audience to limit access to personal information, doing such things as shredding documents.