Avoiding Identity Theft

May 15, 2017
Over 50?  You may be at an increased risk of Identity Theft!  Thieves and scammers prey on groups of people who are considered to be more vulnerable than others; they assume older generations are more trusting and have assets worth stealing.
Identity Theft begins when criminals get their hands on your personal, confidential information.  Social Security numbers, birthdates, and bank account numbers are extremely valuable pieces of information and, in the wrong hands, can lead to Identity Theft.
If a criminal obtains personal information about you, they may…
• drain your bank accounts;
• incur charges on your credit cards for items you never receive;
• bill your Medicaid or insurance company to receive benefits on your behalf;
• file tax returns, under your name, to receive refunds;
• take over your military benefits; or
• collect and cash your Social Security checks.
So what can you do to prevent Identity Theft?
Be cautious.  Criminals may impersonate people you trust, like family members, government officials, charities, or companies you do business with.  If they ask for information or money, be sure to verify they are legitimate before doing anything.
Be aware.  Stay up-to-date on common Identity Theft and fraud schemes.  Visit www.consumer.ftc.gov to learn more and sign up for alert emails.
Be watchful.  Always check your bank and credit card statements for accuracy; if there is a discrepancy or something you can’t account for, start asking questions immediately.
Be prompt.  Collect your mail promptly; criminals may remove bills and statements from your mailbox to obtain your personal information.
Be smart.  Get rid of old bills and statements; shred anything you don’t absolutely need and keep current documents in a safe place.
Be proactive.  Register for Identity Theft protection or restoration programs at your financial institution, or with organizations like AARP.  It’s simple, inexpensive, and will give you peace of mind and a lot of resources if something does happen.
You and your actions play a large role in your susceptibility to Identity Theft; protect yourself.  If you ever suspect you’re a victim of Identity Theft, contact your local law enforcement, your financial institution, or visit www.identitytheft.gov for step-by-step recovery information.
By: Jordan McMahon, Marketing Manager