Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your permission for financial gain. TransUnion reports it happens to 19 people every minute or over 27,000 victims daily. Your Better Business Bureau offers tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.
Each year, about 10 million people fall victim to identity theft according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If your identity is stolen, you should first file a police report. Next contact your creditors and one of the credit bureaus. You can also place a fraud alert on your credit report when you contact the credit bureau. Also, file a complaint with the FTC at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or call (877) 438-4338.
There are many ways thieves can use your identity, such as credit card, utilities, bank and finance fraud. Thieves use your personal information to open up bank accounts, rent homes or even get jobs.
Protecting your identity can also be a challenge online. When surfing the Web, keep your information safe. Look for secured Web sites. They should have “https” in the address. Another way to stay safe is avoid unsolicited e-mails and never click on links from unknown sources.
Your Better Business Bureau suggests you:
• Check your credit report regularly. You’re allowed one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.
• Monitor account statements to be sure you were the source for all activity.
• Shred credit card applications and statements before throwing them away.
• Never give out personal information to unfamiliar people or companies.
• Memorize your passwords and change them regularly.
• Cut up credit cards before pitching them and limit the amount of cards you carry.
• Update your computer with the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
• Don’t respond to e-mails requesting you verify personal information.
• Keep your mail safe because it contains a variety of personal information. Stop mail delivery if you’re traveling.
Your BBB will be hosting Secure Your ID Day on Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Routsong Funeral Home, 81 N. Main St., Centerville. At this free event, your BBB will shred documents for you onsite to help protect you from ID thieves.
If you have questions regarding identity theft, visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. You can also request a copy of a free BBB brochure about the scam.