BBB tips to avoid identity theft

September 25, 2018

Scams are designed to either steal your money now, or steal your identity in order to steal your money later. Scammers have all kinds of techniques to collect personally identifiable information (PII). Once they have it, they can effectively become you, using your identity to open accounts, file taxes, or obtain medical coverage.

With enough information about you, a scammer can take over your identity and commit a wide range of crimes. Scammers can make false applications for loans and credit cards, withdraw money from your bank account, or obtain services. They can also sell your information to others.

Tips to spot identity theft:

Look for unexplained withdrawals, charges, and accounts. Review your account statements regularly. Look for unfamiliar charges, accounts, or withdrawals. Know when your bills are due. If you stop receiving certain bills, scammers may have changed the address. If bills don’t arrive on time or debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours, follow up with your creditors.

Check your credit reports regularly for unauthorized inquiries and accounts. You have the right to check your credit report with each of the three major credit bureaus once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only free crediting reporting service authorized by the Federal Trade Commission.

Protect yourself against identity theft:

Be careful with your personal information. Make sure you shred any outdated documents that have your bank account information, Social Security number, or other personal information. Cut up expired credit and debit cards, making sure to cut through the numbers, before you dispose of them.

Secure personal documents at home. If you have roommates, employ outside help or have contractors in your home, make sure personal documents are in a safe place and not lying out in plain sight. Minimize personal information on checks. You don’t need to include your Social Security number, driver’s license or phone number.

Be alert to phishing attempts. Scammers are sophisticated and their phishing attempts may come via email, text, social media message, even phone calls. Be suspicious of any unsolicited communication asking you for personal information. Whether it’s a supposed tech support call, an offer for a free cruise, or a charity plea, they may really be after your personal information.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, it is very important to act quickly. Visit www.identitytheft.gov for information on how to stop and recover from identity theft.

Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam with Scam Tracker, read tips and follow us on social media.

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