Monday, September 18, 2006

PA Bar Assn Prepares Public Education Campaign on "Personal Identity Theft"

The Pennsylvania Bar Association is preparing a two-week campaign, to run from October 24 to November 7, 2006, on "Identity Theft Prevention". Identity theft is the nation's fastest growing crime, impacting more than 10 million Americans each year.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, through its Bureau of Consumer Protection, investigates & prosecutes such crimes. The PA AG explains what is "identity theft" online here, as follows:

Identity theft and identity fraud are crimes in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses someone else's personal information. Identity theft includes credit card fraud, utilities fraud, and bank fraud.

BroadbandInfo, on its website in an article found
here, indicates that senior identity theft is increasing:

Did you know that 11% of senior citizens, 65 and over are the most likely victims of Internet identity theft. According to, thieves target anyone, but seniors are particularly vulnerable because seniors have more cash reserves and also higher disposable income. Seniors are more trusting in their elder years and most importantly, seniors are not necessarily Internet or computer savvy. And seniors don’t check their credit rating very often. * * *

And, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes that identity theft targeting seniors over age 60 jumped from 1,800 cases in 2000 to almost 6,000 cases the following year, with most cases involving the use of social security numbers. Seniors beware!

AARP offers its free educational seminar, "Preventing Identity Theft", found online here.

The PA AG's Office is aware that many victims of such crimes are seniors, and so operates its "Senior Crime Prevention University", described online here, as follows:

With a large percentage of citizens over the age of 65, Pennsylvania residents are target for a wide variety of scams, cons and other crimes. The Senior Crime Prevention University (SCPU) educates older Pennsylvanians and their families throughout the Commonwealth on crime prevention. Our goal is to make Pennsylvania's older population aware of the threat of fraud to the elder community, teach them how to avoid being victimized; and to make sure they know who they should call when they are concerned about their safety and well being.

Educating seniors about crime and how to avoid it is the best way we can help seniors to help themselves. The theme of the Senior Crime Prevention University is "AWARE, AVOID, ALERT". We want to make seniors "aware" of the scams and frauds that are out there; teach them how to "avoid" becoming the next victim; make them "alert" and observant of their surroundings and situations they are facing; and, encourage them to report any instances of scam or fraud to their local law enforcement.

The PBA supports the PA AG's efforts in this educational campaign. The PBA is acting through its "Client and Community Relations Committee".

Twenty-six Pennsylvania county bar associations will participate in the campaign, including those in the counties of: Adams, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Jefferson, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Washington, Wayne and Westmoreland. Other local bar associations may join the campaign by the end of this week.

The campaign is funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Bar Insurance Fund and Trust. Advertisements will be placed in newspapers throughout the Commonwealth through the PBA's partnership with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

A brochure entitled "How to Avoid Identity Theft" is made available by the PA AG's Office online here. The AG's Office advises: "If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft, contact the Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555."