A few months ago I started hearing radio ads for Lifelock, a company that purports to be so adept at protecting your identity from theft that the CEO, one Todd David, gave his own Social Security number out over the air.
At the time, I remember being impressed with his bravado, but also thinking, "What an idiot. This can't end well."
And it didn't. Reportedly a Texas man was able to get a $500 payday loan using Davis' Social Security number in 2006.
In more recent news, Jeremy Clarkson, host of a tech T.V. show on the BBC, ridiculed people who were concerned that the British government had lost CD's containing personal information on 25 million people.
Writing in the Times, he claimed that "All you'll be able to do with [the account numbers] is put money into my account. Not take it out. Honestly, I've never known such a [fuss] about nothing."
The following week, he changed his tune after learning that an identity thief with a sense of humor had used the details to create an automatic bank transfer to the charity Diabetes UK.
"I opened my bank statement this morning to find out that someone has set up a direct debit which automatically takes £500 from my account," he said. "The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again."
Identity theft is a real concern. I don't shred my bank statements as often as I should, but this not something to toy around with.