NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Still Happening

Still Happening

            Each year, more than 500,000 Americans are victims of identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, people whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years and thousands of dollars cleaning up the mess it causes. Victims of identity theft can lose job opportunities, be refused loans or housing, and even get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. And the problem keeps growing – identity theft is becoming one of the most common types of theft in the U.S.

            Thieves can get the information they need from stealing business records, mailed statements, through a phishing e-mail scam or by digging through trash. With a few account numbers, a Social Security number, address and phone number, a thief is equipped to assume someone’s identity.

            To improve your chances of avoiding identity theft:

• Limit sharing your SSN. Don’t print it on checks or use it on ID cards. Check your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement once a year to check for fraud.

• Monitor your credit report. It contains your SSN, present and past employers and a listing of all account numbers, including closed accounts. Watch for new accounts or activity on existing accounts you didn't approve.

• Shred old bank statements and junk mail credit card offers before throwing them away.

• Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three consumer credit reporting agencies. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT to remove your name from the list for two years. This will reduce the number of preapproved credit offers you receive. Add your name to the list of name-deletions of the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service used by banks and other marketers. Visit www.junkstopper.com to learn the addresses of where to send name removal requests.

• Don’t carry extra credit cards or other important identity documents except when needed.

• Make copies of the contents of your wallet. Copy both sides of your driver’s license and credit cards.

• Never give your credit card number or personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and trust that business.

• Use secure computing methods to deter hackers from obtaining your information. Use safe passwords and change them often.

 

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