Protect Your Information from Thieves

identity theftMore than 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014 along.  Most victims discovered their information had been comprised when their banks contacted them about suspicious activity.  Thieves are more sophisticated than ever, often using technology to help them steal information.  Other times, they prey on the trusting nature of people to procure personal information.

85% of Americans took steps to prevent identity theft, such as shredding documents, checking their credit reports and changing their passwords.

BEWARE OF ATM SCAMMING

If you use and ATM or other card reader you may become a victim of identity theft and not realize it until you look at your account statement.  Thieves have been using counterfeit card readers in tandem with hidden cameras to steal the information on ATM cards for several years.  Once you slide your card into the reader and punch in your PIN, the thief has enough information to make another card.  Incidents were up 546% in 2015, with more than 60% of the incidents occurring at non-bank ATMs.  While more financial institutions are incorporating EMV chips into their debit and ATM cards, which make it more difficult to counterfeit a card, not all of them have converted yet.  Reduce your risk by avoiding non-bank ATMs and monitoring your accounts for unauthorized activity.

MEDICAL IDENTITY THEFT IS ON THE RISE

More than two million Americans are victims of medical identity theft each year.  This type of theft costs the average victim $22,346.  Thieves steal a person’s name and social security number or Medicare number to receive medical care, drugs or to submit false Medicare claims.  Unfortunately a victim may not realize it’s happened until they get a bill for a medical service they didn’t receive or collection notices for bills they know nothing about.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT?

  1.  Report it to your local police and ask them to issue a policy report.  Keep a copy of it to share with your creditors.
  2. Document everything, from phone calls to emails, pertaining to the incident.
  3. Contact the fraud department at one of the major credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion or Experian- to place a fraud alert on your file.  One bureau will notify the other two of the flag on credit-40671__180your credit.
  4. Review your credit report and look for unauthorized charges or new credit lines.
  5. Contact your creditors, financial institution, utilites and services to let them know your identity has been stolen.
  6. Contact the IRS if you think your identity has been used in connection with tax violations.
  7. Contact the postal service to see if anyone submitted change of address forms on your behalf.

Here is some advice I hadn’t thought of, when disposing of your prescription bottles remove and destroy the labels before you throw away so that a thief cannot order your medicine refills in their name. DON”T give out personal information on the phone unless you are absolutely certain the person is who they say they are!  Shred all documents rather than just throwing them away so your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Remember it is always toasty in Naples and you deserve your piece of Naples sunshine and your own identity protected from thieves.

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