It Wasn’t Me!!!
(or No, I Did Not Buy a leftover slice of toast from Prince Charles’ wedding day.)
Truly. The above mentioned toast did not appear on my bank or credit card statement. Other consumers are not so lucky….fraudulent purchases are just part of the billions of dollars lost to electronic and ID fraud. Let’s look at some of the facts and ways to keep Sticky Fingers McGee from our hard earned cash:
- ID theft has doubled in the past year for children; they are being targeted 35 times more than adults because the fraudster has a better chance of going undetected. Treat your child’s information as you would your own – obtain a free credit report annually for your child (and yourself) from www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Destroy documents – thieves will look through trash for paperwork with identifying information (see below for an opportunity to shred your documents for FREE!)
- PIN protection: a weak PIN increases your risk of theft (hint: 1234 is not a good PIN choice.) 1 in 11 cases of debit card fraud has resulted from the PIN number being written down in the same location the card is kept.
- Mobile phones and social media are the new identity theft frontiers – keep smart phones and computers password protected. Install an app that allows you to remotely wipe your device of all sensitive data if lost or stolen.
- And last: YOU are the most important link in ID theft prevention – DO NOT provide personal information to anyone that you do not know. Financial institutions, credit companies, law enforcement or the IRS will never contact you asking for sensitive information to prove your identity – they already have it!
Just remember: Check your credit reports, shred documents when necessary (come shred with us at the YMCA on Earth Day April 21!), be smart about your PIN and protect your information. And I bet that toast was stale.