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Identity Theft Only Getting Worse, Say Investigators

Posted On   date05/02/2014

Identity Theft Only Getting Worse, Say Investigators

The victims of identity theft suffer a hit to their wallet, a credit score plunge and other devastating consequences – and it seems the problem is getting worse.   Recent theft of Target and Neiman Marcus customer information has made it clear that Americans have a better chance of having their identity information stolen than being held at gunpoint.  Around 11.1 million people in the U.S. are victimized annually, an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2007 and largely due to increased technology.

There is so much information on the Internet through over-sharing, human error and security lapses.  Online privacy is fading fast so make sure to protect yourself.  To help manage the issue, minimize your risk of exposure.  Don’t carry your Social Security cards, don’t carry every one of your credit and debit cards, never give personal information out to someone over the phone or Internet, secure your computer and smartphone and shred papers with any personal information or store them in a safe. You should also…

Verify all websites.  There are some online safety tips to abide by to help keep your identity and your family safe. Make sure you use secure, trusted sites when you make purchases. Look for trust seals such as the Better Business Bureau, Truste and McAfee logos on the website in question.  Consider monitoring your credit scores, along with checking your bank and credit accounts often.  Make sure you will be alerted of any suspicious transactions. Enroll in credit and fraud monitoring programs if they fit into your budget.

Have a damage control plan.  Talk with your bank, employer and insurance company to find out if programs are available to help you if you face identity theft.  Find out the costs and if you are eligible to join.

Be leery of suspicious emails or phone calls.  Scammers often send false emails asking for personal information with links that you are directed to click.  Don’t do it, even if it looks real.  If you get phone calls or emails from a person that claims they are from a bank or a business, don’t give out information to them.  Instead, call the number of the bank or business to resolve the issue and ensure you aren’t giving out information to a scam artist.  Even if the contact seems real, it doesn’t mean it’s not a scam.

If you are a victim of identity theft, here are some actions you can take quickly:

1. File a police report where the crime occurred
2. Close the affected accounts
3. Notify the credit bureaus
4. Notify the Federal Trade Commission

Identity theft is a danger to citizens and national security.  It’s nothing new for the FBI and private investigators, but the threat is more insidious than ever and the scams are more sophisticated.  Do whatever it takes to protect yourself and your information, so identity theft doesn’t happen to you!

C. Wright
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