On November 14, 2012, Detective Terry Taylor from the Fraud Division of the St. George Police Department spoke with us about how we can recognize and help protect ourselves from identity theft scams and other schemes which can steal our identities. According to the FTC, identity theft, named the top complaint category for the twelfth year, is enabled by the proliferation of electronics.
Detective. Taylor elaborated on the many electronic avenues of attack on our privacy available to scam artists. There may be no warning signs our identities have been compromised and our best defense is self-education, awareness of theft schemes and vigilance regarding transactions, such as credit card use, when our personal information must be given. Not to be overlooked is taking action to prevent identity theft of our children and grandchildren. The elderly may especially be vulnerable when emotional and fraudulent pleas for money or fantastic "offers" are presented by telephone or e-mail, which entice them into revealing personal information and Social Security numbers.
Remember - if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is!
Basic tips for protecting our personal identity include:
- Limit the number of credit cards you hold and thoroughly inspect your financial statement each month.
- Contact the sender if you don't receive expected monthly financial statements and bills.
- Do not carry your Social Security card with you and be aware that your Medicare or medical insurance card may include your Social Security number.
- Never give your Social Security number for identification.
- Be prepared by being organized and keep paper bank records for at least one year to use as evidence if necessary. Often identity theft occurs inadvertently by certain companies' leaking of data.
- Order a free credit report from each credit reporting company once each year and carefully review the information it contains. To order your report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Hang up on telemarketers and never give personal information such as your birth date to the caller. You may register through the FTC at www.donotcall.gov or phone 1-888-382-1222 to keep them from calling.
If you have questions regarding protection against fraud or scams or have a suspicion your identity may have been compromised, the following resources are available to you: