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Public Safety

Posted on: November 5, 2020

Tips to keep yourself safe from Identity Theft

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Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years – and their hard earned money – cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. With any crime, you cannot completely control whether you will become a victim, but according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information cautiously and with heightened sensitivity.

Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to gain access to your personal information. For example:

-stealing credit and debit card numbers as your card is processed by using a special device in a practice known as “skimming”

-stealing wallets and purses containing identifying or financial information

-stealing mail, including financial statements, pre-approved credit offers, checks, or tax information

-diverting mail to another location

-posing as a legitimate business person or government official to scam information

Signs that your identifying information may be compromised:

-unexpected charges or withdrawals from financial accounts

-receiving credit cards for which you did not apply

-receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you didn’t authorize

Steps you can take to help prevent identity theft:

-actively monitor your credit reports and financial accounts for suspicious or unauthorized activity

-secure all personal information in a safe place

-don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you are sure you know who you’re dealing with

-always confirm the receiving party is a legitimate representative of a legitimate organization

-safeguard your computer by updating virus protection software regularly, not clicking on links or files unless it is from a verified or legitimate source, avoid storing financial information on your computer, and using strong passwords

Steps to take if you suspect your identifying information has been compromised:

-notify credit bureau(s) and place a fraud alert on your credit reports

-continue to actively monitor your credit reports and financial accounts for suspicious or unauthorized activity

-close any accounts that have been compromised or fraudulently opened

-file a report with the police department

-file a complaint with the FTC to help officials track down identity thieves and stop them

 

For more information about identity theft, please visit  www.consumer.gov/idtheft

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