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Scams

Is Your ID Safe?

A new website lets you discover whether you’re a likely target.

Identity theft has been on the rise, affecting nearly ten million Americans in 2008. Most people don’t know that crucial data has been compromised until there’s evidence of its misuse. Now, some free services try to give consumers an early warning about whether they’re at risk. Our favorite, My ID Score (www.myidscore.com), from ID Analytics, scours a real-time database that includes billions of identity elements -- names, Social Security numbers, phone numbers -- to look for unusual activity. That could mean finding a Social Security number that’s attached to more than one name, for example, or several credit-card applications made on the same day by the same applicant using three different addresses. The database also contains millions of reports of fraudulent transactions, supplied by financial services, retailers, telecommunications firms and other commercial customers using ID Analytics’ identity-verification technology.

You plug in your name, address, phone number and birth date (Social Security number is optional) and get a score from 1 to 999. A score of 300, for instance, means you’re 16 times more likely than the average consumer to be a victim of identity theft. More than 90% of users are low-risk; those with high-risk scores are referred to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center for free help.