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Check every day? Geesh, the identity thieves have won

There's protection advice and there's protection advice: Not sure this qualifies

By Paul McNamara on Fri, 11/20/09 - 8:31am.

With Cyber Monday approaching, we here in the news business are being inundated as usual with offers of "expert advice" for us to pass along to readers/online shoppers so that they may better protect themselves against identity theft.

Most of it we -- and you -- have read a hundred times already.

But some of it can still surprise: For example, Network World columnist Andreas Antonopoulos suggests that we all refrain from signing the backs of our credit cards (write: "See ID" instead) lest we offer identity thieves a how-to lesson on forging our signatures. I'd never thought of that one.

Sometimes, however, surprise can turn to utter head-shaking shock, as with a beauty found yesterday within a "tips list" offered by Identity Theft 911, which bills itself as "America's No. 1 Identity Theft Resolution Service."

Here's tip No. 4 from that company's collection: "Check your bank and credit card statements and accounts every day to make sure each transaction is yours."

Every day? You mean 365 days a year? Weekends and holidays? That kind of every day?

Don't know about anyone else, but this strikes me as blowing right on by excessive and diving headlong into the paranoia pool. I mean if you are checking all of your bank and credit card accounts every day -- EVERY DAY! -- I would suggest that the prospect of identity theft ranks somewhere below the likelihood of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on your list of problems.

But that's just me.

This is a tech-savvy audience, so let's see a show of hands: Is there anyone among you who checks your bank and credit card accounts every day to guard against getting ripped off? ... Anyone?  Is anyone doing it anywhere close to every day?

Seriously, I don't shave every day. (OK, since we're being honest here, I've been known to skip a shower, too.) I certainly don't come within weeks of checking my bank and credit accounts daily.

It's not that I question whether checking these accounts every day would be an effective means of mitigating if not eliminating entirely the risk of identity theft. I'm sure it would be helpful, just as running around the house checking window and door locks before bedtime would confound burglars.

But here's my question for Identity Theft 911: If all of us actually did start checking our bank and credit card accounts EVERY DAY, would there really be any need for America's No. 1 Identity Theft Resolution Service?

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