ID theft can happen in several ways

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

Every two seconds, someone’s identity is stolen. This is about the same amount of time it takes to shred an important document. Identity theft is the one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., which happens when someone uses your personal information without your permission for financial gain.

Your identity can be stolen in a number of ways: stolen checks; ATM cards; fraudulent change of address; Social Security number misuse; passports; driver’s license, etc.

If your identity is stolen, you should first file a police report. Then, contact your creditors/financial institutions 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 Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or call (877) 438-4338.

When looking for ways to protect yourself against identity theft, BBB suggests you:

• Check your credit reports 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.

• Look for secured websites. Make sure the website has a locked pad icon and “https” in the URL address.

• Protect your PINs and other passwords and change them regularly.

• Cut up credit cards before pitching them and limit the amount of cards you carry.

• Consider opting out of pre-approved credit card offers, which can be stolen from your mailbox by identity thieves.

• Update your computer with the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

• Sign up for the Do Not Call List at www.donotcall.gov.

The BBB will be hosting its Secure Your ID Day on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Roustong Funeral Home, 81 N. Main St., Centerville. At this free event, your BBB will shred documents containing personal information for you onsite to help protect you from ID thieves.

If you have any questions regarding identity theft, go online to www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. When contacting the BBB about identity theft, you can also request a copy of a free brochure about ID scams.

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