In calendar year 2016, 15.4 million U.S. consumers had sixteen (16) billion dollars stolen due to identity theft. What is identity theft? It is a crime where an individual or group steal your personal information. This can be your name, social security number, credit card number and/or bank information. They use the information they obtain to fraudulently obtain credit, file taxes, get medical services or gain access to your accounts at financial institutions. These acts can damage your credit and cost you both time and money to restore your name. You may not know that you are a victim until you experience a financial consequence (mystery bills, credit collections or denied loans).
Preventing Identify Theft
- Secure your Social Security number. Do not carry your card in your wallet and only give out your number when absolutely necessary.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information by phone, mail or online
- Collect your mail promptly. If you are going to be away from home for several days have the post office hold your mail for you.
- Enable the security features on your mobile devices.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements and expired credit cards to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
- Review your credit report once a year. You can order it for free from annualcreditreport.com