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National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month

National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month

December 1, 2015

Tis the season for thieves to steal our identities! They especially like to come out when our credit card information is flying through the internet, purchasing great deals from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Unfortunately some of those “great” deals are from bogus websites and fake offers, where you just submitted your identity!

Protect your identity this holiday season using the following tips:


Make sure you change your passwords for all online accounts. When changing your password, make it long, strong and unique, with a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. You also may need to contact your bank and other financial institutions to freeze your accounts so that the offender is not able to access your financial resources.


Close any unauthorized or compromised credit or charge accounts. Cancel each credit and charge card. Get new cards with new account numbers. Inform the companies that someone may be using your identity, and find out if there have been any unauthorized transactions. Close accounts so that future charges are denied. You may also want to write a letter to the company so there is a record of the problem.


Think about what other personal information may be at risk. You may need to contact other agencies depending on the type of theft. For example, if a thief has access to your Social Security number, you should contact the Social Security Administration.  You should also contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles if your driver’s license or car registration are stolen.


File a report with your local law enforcement agency.  Even if your local police department or sheriff’s office doesn’t have jurisdiction over the crime (a common occurrence for online crime which may originate in another jurisdiction or even another country), you will need to provide a copy of the law enforcement report to your banks, creditors, other businesses, credit bureaus, and debt collectors.


If your personal information has been stolen through a corporate data breach (when a cyberthief hacks into a large database of accounts to steal information, such as Social Security numbers, home addresses, and personal email addresses), you will likely be contacted by the business or agency whose data was compromised with additional instructions, as appropriate. You may also contact the organization’s IT security officer for more information.

Data security experts warn that simply having data protection and security policies are not enough.  The policies need to be taken seriously by everyone at the company and the regulations need to be firmly enforced.

Are you a victim of fraud or money scam? Share your story with us on the Money Credit and You Facebook page!

Article sources Experian and photo credit: Black Enterprise