Over the last several years you keep hearing again and again how important it is to protect your identity otherwise someone may steal your identity and cause you all sorts of problems, both financially and otherwise. Unfortunately, the very people that we pay to protect us are much more careless about important aspects of our identity than we are.
If you have ever had a police officer ask for your identification so that he could verify who you were, you have just given identity thieves everything they need to steal your very identity.
There are four key items that are necessary for an identity thief to do his "magic" and transform himself into you. Those items are: a.) your name, b.) your date of birth, c.) your Social Security Number, and d.) your Drivers License number. And these four pieces of information are exactly what your friendly police officer gives out to the general public every day.
Over the past few days I have been monitoring the Honolulu Police Department radio transmissions on my scanner specifically listening for this key information. In less than one week I was able to write down the four key pieces of identifying information for over 50 people. That is over 50 citizens that have had their personal identifying information publicized for anyone to copy down, without them even realizing that everyone was listening to it.
Luckily for those citizens, I am not a criminal trying to steal their identities, but if I were, the Honolulu Police Department gave me everything that I need to do it.
This was not a fluke, this is a daily occurance with our police departments across the country. They themselves warn you of the risks of identity theft, and then they so casually publicise your information without giving it a second thought. Every day I hear unsuspecting people's personally identifying information sent out over the radio.
In 2011, just over 12 Million American's were victims of identity theft. It happens to approximately 19 people each and every minute.
I became aware of how bad this situation is several years ago when my own identity was stolen. We later found out that this was exactly how it happened. The criminal that stole my identity and applied for several credit cards in my name got my information from listening to the local police department on his scanner and wrote down my information that the police department broadcast over their radios when I was involved in a traffic accident with a hit and run driver.
Anyone can be monitoring these frequencies with a scanner purchased online or, depending on the department, they may even be able to listen to the broadcasts online through websites like Broadcastify.
Criminals have access to your personal information, and it is the police that are giving it to them, but remember, they are giving the criminals your personal information so that the the friendly police officer can better protect you.
And if you think it's only criminals whose identifying information is being broadcast for anyone in the public to listen to, you are sadly mistaken. Police officers have the mistaken belief that anyone they come into contact with is required to identify themselves to the officer simply because they made contact with you and they asked you to identify yourself. This is simply not what the law says.
In Hawaii, as in most other states in the country, you are only required to i