SHRM informs about ID theft

FMU’s Society for Human Resource Management and the School of Business invited John Hall to teach students about keeping their identities, credit cards and passwords safe from scammers on Nov. 10 at the Chapman Auditorium in the McNair Science Building.  

Hall is a certified identity theft risk management specialist who trained alongside the FBI. He has a 30-year background in IT, which grants him an educational foundation in the practice of keeping identities safe.  

“The strongest IT networks and systems set up can be circumvented by one human error, so having people understand what identity theft really is and why it’s important to protect information…is going to help everybody because nobody wants to be a victim of identity theft,” Hall said. “By everybody being educated and taking those reasonable steps, it helps to create a culture of security.”  

According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection, losses from identity theft totaled $5.8 billion and there were 5.7 million fraud and identity theft reports in 2021. From 2020, the number of fraud cases reported have increased by 70%.  

In his presentation, Hall focused on the six most common types of identity theft: driver’s license, social security number (SSN) or employment, medical, criminal or character, financial and the identities of children.  

Hall explained how identity theft occurs in each category using examples and historical data, and he gave the students multiple tips on lowering their risk of having their information stolen.   

One piece of advice was to use either a protected wallet or a radio frequency identification (RFID) jammer, a sleeve that blocks debit and credit card chips from being scanned without permission. Hall later asked the audience questions and gave RFID jammers to those who participated.  

Hall also advised setting a screen lock code on any mobile devices, examining charges on credit card statements each month, avoiding public internet networks unless a VPN is being used and avoiding emailing or texting sensitive data.  

Upon exiting the auditorium, students received a sheet that featured the most important slides from Hall’s presentation: tips to lower one’s risk of theft, the most common types of identity theft and information for an IDShield protection plan.  

Hall told the students to specifically watch out for impersonation, email phishing, employment scams and unemployment filing scams. He also warned against using the same password for every account, which is something people often do to avoid forgetting passwords or for convenience. According to Hall, the best way to create a strong password is by using uppercase and lowercase letters, featuring numbers, using a character such as an asterisk and having at least 12 characters.  

Hall offered an official website by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to stay proactive:   

Through this website, one can lock their SSN to prevent it from being stolen, track their employment records and see any past use of their SSN. However, Hall warned any students potentially interested in making a myE-Verify account not to lose their password as the changing process was more complicated due to its high-security nature.