Friday, May 8, 2009

Where The 'Bleep' Did My Identity Go?

By Judi Lynn Lake

I am a die-hard Mac user. Have been for over twenty years and it only gets better. The PC certainly has its place but for creative projects well... the Mac is superior and the good news is is that Mac's do not get viruses.

My partner is a die-hard PC user. If you ever viewed the recent Mac commercials then you can imagine our relationship. I have recently added creative video production to my advertising agency's services and my partner began to feel a bit competitive. I have always thrived on competition and believe it to be good... even if it is with your partner.

My first video was a Creative Director's dream -- my client gave me complete creative carte blanche. My partner, who is a copywriter, had recently bought PC video software and... well, he was just dying to use it and prove that it would triumph over the Mac.

Once I completed all the storyboards, I sent a crew out to shoot on location. As I passed my partners office, I peaked in his office and I could see sweat dripping from his forehead. He was struggling and I silently laughed, wishing we had made a bet. Two weeks later the video was completed; fully edited and designed on my Mac. The client approved the video and it was a 'go'. My partner, on the other hand, was still trying to learn the software and his final product was 'the homegrown version' clip. It is comical, but seriously our differences actually are our strengths.

An experienced Mac user tends to be 'cocky' at times because there really are no limits to what our little machines can do, and I am no exception -- I rarely see any limits. There was, however, a disadvantage I experienced recently that unfortunately is nondiscriminating towards neither a Mac nor a PC: Identity Theft. This week I became victim to Identity Theft and therefore a statistic in the wonderland of technology.

No longer holding the 'it could never happen to me' mentality because it did and it happens to millions of people a day without some consumers ever realizing it. Technology is incredible and we can do things today that were never imagined twenty years ago. But as technology juices up the creative sector, it also feeds the larcenists and opens up a world of crime unheard of years ago.

Once considered a protection, our social security number has actually transformed into the very bait that perpetrators look for to steal identities. Who is walking around with my name? Who is walking around with my numbers and personal information? Is it someone reading this article? Is it someone I do business with? Is it my neighbor? This is a form of terrorism, which stalks our daily lives in the twenty-first century and ruins lives.

I have been 'Judi Lynn' all of my life and 'Lake' for the past eleven years and am very happy to be me. How dare a stranger invade my life and steal it from me. I have heard nightmare stories of people haunted for years through Identity Theft and to quote the 1970s movie Network, "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!"

Unfortunately, in this day and age, high security precautions must be taken both personally and professionally. The best defense against this heinous crime is education and guidance but 'the damned if you do' fact is that skilled identity thieves will use a variety of methods to gain access to your data. There are many websites available on the Internet that educates people on steps to protect themselves before and after Identity Theft occurs. One such site I recommend is The Federal Trade Commission For The Consumer.

Some Steps To Take Today Before You Fall Victim

  1. Place passwords on all of your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Ask if you can use a password instead.
  2. Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home.
  3. Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect your personally identifying information. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that it is handled securely. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask how your information can be kept confidential.
Don't think that identity theft can not happen to you, expect that it will so that it won't -- stay informed and stay educated so you do not become a statistic.

Article Source: Articles Engine

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