BBB Tips: Identity Theft

By:  Council of Better Business Bureaus

Protecting your identity is largely your own responsibility. The first rule of ID protections is:  if you don’t need it, destroy it – responsibly

Better Business Bureau of Greater Kansas, AARP-Missouri and Office of the Kansas Attorney General have partnered to offer a free shred event. BBB’s across the country are hosting shred events in support of “Secure Your ID Day”.  For a by state list of events, click here.

Everyday Habits to Safeguard Your Identity 

Scams are designed to either steal your money now, or steal your identity now 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.

How the Scam Works:

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 that the scammer would otherwise be denied.

Identity theft may take a long time to detect. Scammers typically ensure that bills and statements for new accounts are not sent to your address. You may not notice what is happening until the scammer has already inflicted substantial damage on your assets, credit, and reputation.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, it is very important to act quickly.      In the U.S., visit www.identitytheft.gov for information on how to stop and recover from identity theft. In Canada, the Anti-Fraud Centre has information on identity theft.

Tips to Spot This Scam:

  • Look for unexplained withdrawals, charges, and accounts.When reviewing your bank account, credit card statements, or credit reports, you notice unfamiliar charges, accounts or withdrawals. You may stop receiving certain bills because scammers have changed the address associated with your bank account or credit card. Debt collectors may call you about debts that aren’t yours.
  • Check your credit reports regularly for unauthorized inquiries and accounts.In the U.S., you have the right to check your credit report with each of the three credit bureaus once per year at annualcreditreport.com.      Space these checks out across the year, and you will know fairly quickly if something is awry. In Canada, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides information on requesting a free credit report.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.

 

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