It seems like each day, the news brings us another account of widespread identity theft. Companies in the news this week for identity breaches include the online extramarital dating website Ashley Madison and the premier identity protection company LifeLock itself which has come under fire for improper protection practices.
Cyber attacks and data breaches have many of us on edge and worried about identity theft.
According to a recent survey by MasterCard, 77 percent of Americans are anxious about their financial information and Social Security numbers being stolen or compromised. Recovering from Identity Theft could cost thousands of dollars and countless hours to repair the damage.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service has gathered some quick tips for consumers to protect their identities:
5 TIPS – KEEPING YOUR ID SAFE IN PUBLIC
·Before you leave your house, take out any credit cards from your wallet or purse that you know you will not be using.
·Copy the front and back information on your card, so you have contact information quickly in case your card is stolen.
·Do not carry your Social Security card with you. That number is vital in opening new credit accounts.
·Watch where you leave your card when you shop. Don't leave your credit card on the counter with people around. A simple click of a camera phone or good memory can capture your name, card number and expiration date. A thief can then use that number instantly to buy goods online.
·Keep your receipts in your purse or wallet, not in the bag. This will make it easier to track your purchases to your credit card bill or bank statement and also help you to stay within your budget.
QUICK TIPS HELP PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT
·Shred credit card applications, don't throw in trash.
·Be aware of your online surroundings.
·Inspect ATM machines and any other devices you may insert your debit card in to. If you suspect the card reader has been tampered with, avoid use and report to the authorities. Identity Thieves place “skimming devices” in these machines to read and steal your card information.
·Initiate the transaction online.
·In the store, keep your card close-by, always double-check that you have it when you leave.
·Read your credit card statement carefully each month.
·Watch your mail for any questionable credit applications (different address, name variation).
·Contact the three credit bureaus and tell them that you have been a victim of identity theft.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service has also listed some tips on what to do if you become a victim of identity theft:
·Contact your creditors directly and ask to speak to someone in the security department. Freeze the existing account. (Contact information below)
·Contact local law enforcement and get a police report. This will serve as documentation that a crime has occurred.
Equifax fraud division
Experian fraud division
Trans Union fraud division
For more information on how you can keep your Identity protected and to get help reviewing and understanding your credit reports, contact a certified credit counselor at Consumer Credit Counseling Service at 712-2060 or http://www.consumercreditbuffalo.org/index.php.