27 March 2013
Don’t Be An ID Theft Victim
By Pam Tucker 

Fort Detrick Army Community Service

There’s a funny movie in the theaters right now that deals with a topic that’s not a bit funny: identity theft. In the movie, a shopaholic living in Miami has stolen the identity of an average man living in Denver to support her ways. Throughout the laughter, one thing becomes apparent: how difficult it is to get your ID back after it has been taken.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates as many as nine million Americans have their ID stolen annually. This scam has been number one on the list of consumer complaints for longer than a decade. ID theft is not only rampant but also ever evolving. As such, we need to be aware of some of the top ways to prevent our own identities from being compromised.

Emails appearing to be from your bank, credit card, or store, telling you that your account has a problem and asking you to respond through a link is called phishing. Don’t click on any of the supplied links. Instead, go directly to the business’ website for contact information to verify the email’s authenticity.

This same scam also occurs over the phone. The caller pretends to be someone from the government or a company you deal with, and they seek personal information to complete your transaction. Do not share any information and immediately hang up on them. Call back the business to make sure your account is in order. If so, tell the company about the phone scam to help protect others.In our modern world, many of us rely on cards instead of cash. 

Skimming devices placed in gas pumps, ATMs, and at restaurants allow your personal information to fall into a criminal’s hands. Fake cards can then be created from your information. To avoid this, don’t use machines that look odd, and take your card to the hostess desk to watch the transaction yourself.Be sure to shred your mail-even your junk mail. 

If you don’t, crooks can get your personal information from statements and open up credit cards from those numerous offers that appear daily. These thieves will often submit change-of-address notices for the accounts they have opened. 

If you suddenly stop receiving paper statements, call the business to verify what is happening.ID thieves are not beyond going through your trash to look for identity treasures. Unshredded documents, old computers, cell phones, and even magazines with mailing labels still attached will assist would-be criminals with their bad intentions. 

Always wipe information from any electronics before disposing of them. Better yet, wipe and then donate these items to a charity.If you are looking for extra work and respond to a “work from home” ad that promises unlimited success, beware. 

The Better Business Bureau has determined that many would-be workers fall victim to this as these companies request social security numbers and bank information to begin employment.This is just a trick to get your personal information. 

No matter how badly you need the job, be careful of these offers.Lastly, since it is tax season, don’t fall victim to refund scams.

Cybercriminals could use your personal information to file a return and have money placed in a bogus account. Often, this is only discovered after you attempt to file your return. The BBB also warns about scammers sending out emails claiming that a refund is being delayed for one reason or another.

This practice is definitely fraudulent, as the Internal Revenue Service does not email income tax filers regarding returns. If you receive one of these notices, please contact the IRS immediately.

Posted by PAO

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