Preventing Identity Theft

According to the Federal Trade Commission, they received more that 2.1 million fraud reports from consumers in 2020. These included scams, identity theft/fraud and cybercrime.

Identity theft happens several ways:

  • Stolen mail, outgoing and incoming, that gives them your personal information.
  • Going through dumpsters or trashcans to get bills or other paperwork you have thrown away.
  • Hackers gaining access to personal computers to steal your data.
  • Those fun “games” we play on social media answering favorites things, childhood pets, schools and the
  • like. Those are clever ways for cybercriminals to get personal information as well as possible passwords.
  • Phone hijacking, stealing your phone number or your information off your phone.

Here are a few ways to protect yourself.

  • Shred all financial documents and paperwork with personal information on it.
  • Never give out your Social Security number or other identifying information.
  • Make up complex passwords, do not use personal identifiers as passwords and never carry passwords with you.
  • When using an ATM machine, make sure no one is hovering over you and can see you enter your password.
  • When participating in an online auction, try to pay the seller directly with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if the merchandise does not arrive or was misrepresented.
  • Adopt an attitude of healthy skepticism toward websites that offer prizes or giveaways. Chances are, all that’s been “won” is the opportunity to buy something you didn’t want in the first place.
  • Choose a commercial online service that offers parental control features.
  • Teach children online safety and to never give personal information out.