State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
December 29, 2006, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue mailed out about 170-thousand income tax forms to taxpayers with their Social Security numbers printed on the address labels for anyone to see.
This month, about 260,000 state residents who participate in Medicaid, BadgerCare or SeniorCare had their Social Security numbers printed on a mailing from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Also this month, a portion of 5,000 taxpayers in northeastern Wisconsin had their Social Security numbers exposed in a state mailing. A folding error enabled some of the recipients' Social Security numbers to be seen in the windows of envelopes containing federal 1099-G tax forms.
These breaches of private information open the door to identity theft.
As identity theft skyrockets, with as many as 750,000 Americans victimized each year, experts unfortunately say there is not a surefire prevention plan. There are some simple methods that can be used for protection, according to small business and personal finance writer, author, and MSN.money contributor Jeff Wuorio:
“1. Tear up -- or, if you prefer, shred -- credit card statements, solicitations and other documents that contain private financial information.
2. Empty your mailbox quickly, lock it or get a P.O. box so criminals don’t have a chance to snatch credit card pitches. Never mail outgoing bill payments and checks from home. They can be stolen from your mailbox and the payee's name erased with solvents. Mail them from the post office or another secure location.
3. Never carry your Social Security card with you, or any other card that may have your number, like a health insurance card. And don’t put your number on your checks. It's the primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report and bank accounts.
4. Don't leave a paper trail. Never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts behind.
5. Never let your credit card out of your sight. Worried about credit card skimming? Always keep an eye on your card or, when that's not possible, pay with cash.
6. Know who you're dealing with. Whenever anyone contacts you asking for private identity or financial information, make no response other than to find out who they are, what company they represent and the reason for the call. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company yourself and confirm what you were told before revealing any of your personal data.
7. Take your name off marketers' hit lists. Sign up for the Wisconsin No Call List.
9. Monitor your credit report. Obtain and thoroughly review your credit report at least once a year to look for suspicious activity. If you spot something, alert your card company or the creditor immediately.
10. Review your credit card statements carefully. Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill. “
Wuorio’s advice if something goes wrong:
“First, contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Tell them that you're an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, along with a victim's statement asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts.
Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a letter.
File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the police report in case the bank, credit-card company or others need proof of the crime.
Keep records of everything involved in your efforts to clear up fraud, including copies of written correspondence and records of telephone calls.”