Monday, June 4, 2007

Identity Theft and the Hurricane Season

Hurricane season officially began and news stories are everywhere about predictions and who is at risk, and how people deal with it. I saw one news story in particular where a woman from an emergency planning office in a Florida locality was talking about what she sees every time a storm heads towards the coast: people rushing in to buy batteries, bottled water, and bread. She even saw two people fighting over a can of soup and longs lines at stores, arguments, and many other incidents that do not normally occur between neighbors.

Then they asked people what they were doing to prepare. One man stated “what can I do, I don’t have insurance”, another woman said “I’ve lived here 20 years and I have not had a hurricane impact me, YET, and I really don’t know what to do anyway”. One man said he would wait and see what happens this year before he takes any actions.

In fairness there are people who purchased plywood, generators, have supplies on hand, just in case.

So when a hurricane does hit, and if you live in Florida or the southeast United States, you will be affected by one eventually. Who will be in better shape to ride out the storm? Who do you think is going to be on the evening news standing in a waterline 3 blocks long?

The question lies in why do people who know or understand the inevitable, still sit back and do nothing. What makes people live in deniability constantly?

This same scenario is true with identity theft. If you have not been a victim of identity theft yet, your chance increases with each passing year. Approximately 1 in 30 will become victims this year alone. Even with those odds many will sit back and do nothing. But if a local Scout Troop was selling raffle tickets and gave you those odds, you’d likely buy one because those are pretty good odds.

People are just starting to recognize that identity theft is at epidemic levels, yet millions still do nothing to protect themselves. Since you started reading this 20 people will have had their identity stolen. Today alone will claim 25,000 victims. I have not met anyone recently who has not known a victim or been one themselves.

So why do people wait? Are Americans the ultimate optimists? It really does not matter why people don’t act, because in the end we are responsible for ourselves and our identities. If you don’t change behaviors and take steps to protect yourself, then you are destined for what will eventually provide misfortune, a hurricane if you live in the southeast US, or identity theft anywhere in the US.