NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Identity Theft Continues

Identify Theft Continues

 

Identity thieves are an unfortunate reality in our society. The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft tops the list at 37% of complaints.. It is important to become aware of this problem and take steps to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. You cannot completely control whether you will become a victim. However, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information cautiously and with heightened sensitivity.

Skilled thieves gain access to your personal information by:

- Getting information from businesses or other institutions and credit and bank cards.

Stealing mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information.

To reduce your risk of identity theft -

Place passwords on your credit cards, bank and phone accounts.

Avoid using easily available information such as your mother’s maiden name, birth date and the last four digits of your social security number or your phone number.

Secure personal information in your home. Shred or tear your charge receipts, copies of credit applications or offers, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, and expired charge cards before disposing of them.

Ask about security procedures in your workplace. Who has access to your personal information? Are records in a secure location? Ask about disposal procedures for those records.

Do not give out personal information over the phone, through mail, or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

- Guard your mail and trash from theft. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox.

Before revealing any identifying information, ask how it will be used and secured, and whether it will be shared with others. Ask if you can choose to have the information kept confidential.

Keep your Social Security card in a secure place ¡

Limit the identification information and the number of credit and debit cards that you carry to what you actually need.

Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work.

Try not to store financial information on your laptop unless absolutely necessary. If you do, use a “strong” password — that is a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols.

Avoid using an automatic log-in feature on your computer that saves your user name and password and always log off when you’re finished.

Delete any personal information stored on your computer before you dispose of it.

¡ Read web site privacy policies which should contain information about access security and control of your personal information.

¡ Report spam e-mail to http://www.ftc.gov/spam

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