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Identity Theft Protection!
Authored By: Emily Oldenkamp on 4/1/2019

Financial Education! 

Identity Theft Protection!

Identity (ID) theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud. The identity thief may use your information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services. These acts can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name.

You may not know that you’re the victim of ID theft immediately. Signs you may be a victim:

  • Bills for items you didn't buy

  • Debt collection calls for accounts you didn't open

  • Denials for loan applications

Children and seniors are both vulnerable to ID theft. Child ID theft may go undetected for many years. Victims may not know until they’re adults, applying for their own loans. Seniors are vulnerable because they share their personal information often with doctors and caregivers. The number of people and offices that access their information put them at risk. Help look out for the seniors and children in your life to make sure that they don’t become victims.

There are several common types of identity theft that can affect you:

  • Tax ID theft - Someone uses your Social Security number to falsely file tax returns with the IRS or your state

  • Medical ID theft - Someone steals your Medicare ID or health insurance member number. Thieves use this information to get medical services or send fake bills to your health insurer.

  • Social ID theft - Someone uses your name and photos to create a fake account on social media

Take steps to avoid being a victim of identity theft:

  • Secure your Social Security number (SSN). Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet and only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.

  • Don’t share personal information (birthdate, Social Security number, or bank account number) just because someone asks for it. Don’t be afraid to pushback and ask why that information is necessary.

  • Collect your mail every day. Place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days. Make sure to provide your post office with a forwarding address if you move.

  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender. When possible, consider online statements and bills that are sent directly to your email or online account.

  • Use the security features on your mobile phone.

  • Update sharing and firewall settings when you're on a public WIFI network. Use a virtual private network, if you use public WIFI. If you aren’t worried about running out of data, consider making your phone a hotspot and use that internet connection for your computer when out in public.

  • Review your credit card and bank account statements. Compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.

  • Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.

  • Store personal information in a safe place. If possible, make sure it is password protected or behind lock and key.

  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer. Run scans often (around once a week) to check for potential threats.

  • Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess. Change your passwords often. Change your password immediately if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases.

  • Stop into a local branch so we can review your credit report with you at least once a year to make certain that they don't include accounts that you have not opened.

Original article from https://www.usa.gov/identity-theft. Edited for content and clarity.



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