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Identity Crisis

Identity theft is rampant, but it never seems real until it hits close to home

5:55 PM -- The last thing you want to see in your inbox is a message from the home office with the subject line, "Identity Theft Response."

That's what I -- and all of CMP's parent company, United Business Media -- got this afternoon from corporate. Turns out a small number of JPMorgan Chase Retirement Services customers had their personal access codes and passwords stolen from their homes or computers, and then the criminals initiated "on-line disbursements from the participant’s retirement accounts." (JP Morgan Chase Retirement Services is our 401(K) provider.)

Luckily, none of the victims were from our company, but the notice was an uncomfortable reminder of just how close every one of us is to falling victim to this growing problem we write about regularly here at Dark Reading -- but don't like to think could happen to us personally.

JPMorgan couldn't give details since the case is under investigation, but the financial services firm provided recommendations to subscribers on how to safeguard their personal information.

A few of the tips were fairly obvious to the security-savvy, like don't conduct financial transactions on public computers, keep your personal computer protection up to date, run firewalls and antivirus scanners, and don't provide your ID/password by phone or email. JPMorgan also recommends its retirement services clients don't conduct any financial transactions over wireless networks, either. (Was that you gulping your coffee?)

The bottom line? We all need a little prodding sometimes in order to wake up and smell the coffee, even if we study and discuss these security issues every day at our jobs. And this one was a little too close to home for me.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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