Identity Theft is quickly becoming one of the most organized and
costly crimes of modern times. Identity Theft is a crime in which
an imposter deceptively obtains identifying personal data and uses
it for their own personal gain. Some of this data might include
social security numbers, driver's license numbers, credit card
numbers and bank account numbers. The process can start with a
stolen wallet, pilfered email or an online data breach. Identity
Theft can affect anyone of any age, including children!
Over 8 million people are victimized by identity theft each
year, with identity theft remaining the top complaint to the FTC
for 11 years running. Overall losses from identity theft were over
$37 billion in 2010. The average consumer out of pocket cost was up
to $631 per incident.
National Protect Your Identity Week is October 16-22, 2011. To
mark this annual event, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of
Rochester is offering tips to help consumers protect their
identity. We will also be hosting an event at the Fairport, NY Tops
at 6720 Pittsford Palmyra Rd on October 22nd from
10am-2pm. Bring your documents and we'll shred them for you!
The best way to protect your identity is to be proactive and
through prevention. It is much more difficult to recover from
identity theft than to take steps to stop it before it happens.
Occasionally, hackers are able to breach the
security precautions of companies and access protected consumer
However, there are some proactive steps you can
take as a consumer to safeguard your personal information.
The best method of monitoring your credit report
would be to pull all 3 credit reports annually, ideally spreading
them out over a course of a year.
You can acquire your credit report for free
through annualcreditreport.com; this site is a free,
government-sponsored site with no fees or temporary membership
If you feel that your identity has been
compromised, you can place a personal statement on your credit
It is important to place instructions for a
creditor to follow if they are trying to issue you credit,
including a method for them to contact you.
Make sure to update your passwords and contact
the bank or lender immediately.
Request the bank or lender to issue out a new
card, and change any PIN‟s associated with the accounts.
Contact companies that have recently solicited
you and ask to be removed from their mailing list.
To avoid e-mail solicitations, you can direct them to the junk
or spam folder. Then, each time you‟re sent a solicitation from any
company you sent to junk or spam, it will automatically go
By: Rachel Douglas, NFCC certified Credit Counselor
Card skimming is a method used by thieves
to steal credit or debit card information. Skimmers place
counterfeit devices on ATMs which record your information when
cards are inserted into them.
This practices illustrates that credit
and debit card accounts are vulnerable even if the cards themselves
are never lost.
In part, that is because credit and debit
card numbers are usually stored unencrypted on a magnetic stripe on
the reverse of each card, which thieves can easily copy at low
Summer is the highest-risk season for
scams and thefts, so make sure you know how to properly protect
yourself to avoid becoming an easy target.
To protect yourself from card skimming
scams, practice the following:
Avoid ATMs that you do not
Thieves commonly put out-of-order signs on legitimate ATMs and set
up nearby counterfeit ones that skim information from your card.
ATMs positioned inside banks within view of watch cameras aren't
risk free, but they create more challenges for the thieves who
install skimming equipment.
Cover your code.
When entering your PIN into an ATM or card reader, cover the
keypad from the observation of hidden cameras or anyone in close
Use the "credit" option with your
If you must use a debit card, choose the option to have the
purchase processed as a credit transaction rather than entering in
This option is available at many point-of
sale terminals, and functions the same exact way as using the debit
option. This way, your debit PIN is more secure.
Card skimmers particularly target gas
stations, especially in vacation areas. Make sure to be extra
careful while filling up your gas tank!
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