Online Identity Theft Protection for Dummies is a quick read (66 pages) that recommends what you need to do to prevent a problem that has affected millions of Americans, although the exact statistics are in dispute . The first thing that you should know about this book is that it’s written by the CEO and Founder of Access Smart, a company that produces a number of computer security products focused on password management that dovetails very nicely with fighting identity theft. You can currently obtain this book for the price of shipping from Access Smart.
You’ve probably already deduced that the book is peppered with references to their products, in particular their Power LogOn application, and how it would help solve the problem addressed in the book. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as you may very well be interested in just such an application. You can also very easily skip over the sections dedicated to espousing the benefits of Power LogOn. By my estimate, if the book didn’t cover the app, they could have cut it down by at least a dozen pages.
As someone who has been in the computer industry on both sides of the Help Desk fence for a long time, I find that computer users fall generally into 2 groups – those who don’t know and don’t care how things work and those who are interested and will make a very good effort to understand. That may seem like a truism, but I don’t feel that there are many shades of gray between the 2 groups. The former group simply want to be told by a reputable source what to do. Having said all of this, I think that this book should have probably targeted this group and cut back on some of the more detailed explanations. If you fall into the latter group, then you may wish to buy a more substantive book on the subject such as Preventing Identity Theft For Dummies.
For the most part, I agree professionally with the reasons and recommendations made. They tend to be the same across the board. In fact, you can gather the same type of information quite easily on the Web. Just do a search on the phrase “identity theft” to find dozens if not hundreds of articles on the subject. I did however object to the matter-of-fact usage of some statistics, without pointing out that there is no consensus on these numbers. For example, the most egregious stat quoted was that between February 2005 and July 2006, 100 million Americans had personal information compromised. While this is potentially true, it is greatly disputed, and statistics from other sources would have been appropriate.
I feel that as “Dummies” books go, it didn’t quite contain as much humor as I’m used to and enjoy reading, but it’s somewhat understandable due to the serious nature of the subject. Overall, this book presents good material on the subject, and the coverage of the author’s product does not detract from the value of the content.