I Think, Therefore I Am-Or Maybe Am Not, In 2003

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The good news? In 2003, Americans said that losing their job wasn't a primary concern. The bad news? More Americans said losing their identity was.

For credit unions in 2003, the news related to identity theft was even worse for several reasons. First, even in cases where the credit union was not at all involved, many victims still hold their credit union responsible, especially when they were victimized by a phony credit union website or e-mail. Second, identity theft costs not just the member time and money, but their credit union as well.

The seriousness of the problem could be increasingly seen in public opinion polls. Americans begin to see real losses from identity theft, with 1 in 20 victimized, according to a survey by Star Systems. Another survey showed that Americans said they feared ID theft more than losing their job.

It wasn't just individual members and consumers who were being victimized. Navy FCU's corporate identity was stolen when credit cards were counterfeited with its name and logo, scamming hundreds of thousands from merchants. A Maryland couple was later caught and cops found 40,000 phony cards in their home.

The FBI investigated the theft of Century CU's identity in newspaper ads directing readers to credit repair scams and consumer loans at a phony website mimicking the CU's authentic site. A similar scam slater surfaced in Washington State, and credit unions found they were often on their own in trying to get the bogus websites shut down. Meanwhile, plenty of lookalike domain names were for sale. The Credit Union Journal could have bought www.navycreditunions.com, for instance, for $5, an investigative piece showed, and analysts stressed the need to protect all variations of a CUs name in cyberspace. CU*Answers' CUSO Xtend rolled out its first product: ID fraud insurance. Later, more and more credit unions began to offer ID Theft services, as well. (c) 2007 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.cujournal.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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