University of Texas: Identity theft happens every 2 seconds

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The warnings about providing too much personal information online have been around for years. Still, identity theft happens every two seconds, according to the Center for Identity at the University of Texas. Tuesday, the Center will hold its annual conference to look at ways the public can better protect their personal information, like a birth date or social security number.

The reason criminals want someone’s online identity is because it’s a currency that can be bought and sold, according to the Center’s director. The best way to determine if your online identity has been compromised is to monitor the places personal information is provided. The most valuable information is a birth date, mother’s maiden name, and address. A social security number is also extremely valuable.

“You should not carry your social security card with you because that number is a number that stays with you for a lifetime. You cannot get a new one, and criminals love it because they can do so much with it,” said Suzanne Barber, director at the Center for Identity at UT.

Barber suggests monitoring a bank account, mortgage statements and credit report. Also, know what a company is doing with the online information. However, that may mean reading through a 30-page privacy document that can be hard to understand, so the Center for Identity came up with an app called Privacy Checker.

“It will go through and tell you: Are they going to sell your information? Are they going to track you online? Are they going to share your information with law enforcement? It gives you that information in easy-to-access bites or icons,” said Barber.

Tuesday’s conference is being held at the Hilton Hotel at 8 a.m. The Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service, and Frank Abagnale — the famous forger who was played by Leonardo DeCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can” — will speak.

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