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Scam Alert

Identity theft
Since the computer breach that allowed hackers to view 8 million credit card numbers in the system of Omaha-based processing company Data Processors International, consumers are asking: "When will legislation be passed that truly protects consumers from identity theft?" Too late for the 55,000 students, former students and employees of the University of Texas whose identities were compromised when a hacker broke into the UT system and gained access to their Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses and names last February. "We flat out messed up on this one," said Dan Updegrove, vice president of UT's information technology.

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The culprit of the UT break-in has since turned himself in. That's the best the would-be-victim Longhorns could hope for. What's in store for identity theft victims without such luck? Ask Derek Bond. Bond, a 72 year-old British man, was imprisoned for two weeks in South Africa last February after the FBI wrongly identified him as a wanted fugitive. He was freed when the real fugitive was arrested in Las Vegas. The U.S. Attorney's Office believes this crook had been using Bond's identity as far back as 1989.

It's a situation all too familiar to Malcolm Byrd. Byrd has been arrested several times, had his driver's license revoked twice, lost pay while sitting in jail, lost a job and almost had his children taken away by child protective services -- all because a criminal continues to use his identity.

Bankrate.com has complied steps you should take to protect your identity.

Read about more scams.

-- Posted: Oct. 10,2003



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