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IDENTITY THEFT PREVENTION

TALK TO YOUR TEEN

In today’s tech‑savvy world, we face threats to our identity as soon we join the electronic age of social media, smart phones, and internet browsing. Chatting, downloading information, or creating a social network without knowing the risks to our identities or how to avoid them puts our futures at stake, for adults and teens alike.

Identity theft is a felony involving fraud or attempted fraud by using a person’s identifying information without authority. Not only should we educate ourselves on identity theft, but also make sure that our teenagers have an understanding of the risks associated with sharing of information. “Parents invest a lot of time into their children’s future. Educating children on how to protect their identity can help make sure that their future is not limited by bad credit or worse from identity theft,” said LBA Chief Executive Officer Robert Taylor. A name, address, Social Security number, and birth date are more than enough to let a stranger pretend to be you, or your teen. Here are some of the most common ways identity thieves can obtain one’s personal information:

• Stealing a purse or wallet containing debit and identification cards

• Stealing a birth certificate, passport or other documents during a home burglary

• Digging through garbage cans or dumpsters for canceled checks, bank statements and pre‑approved credit card offers

• Hacking into computers that contain personal records

 

• Filing a change of address form in your name to divert mail and gather personal and financial data.

 

• Phishing, that is, sending a legitimate looking email directing you to a phony website asking for personal and financial data.

 

While we cannot completely protect ourselves from identity theft, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of becoming a victim.

• Never give personal information to anyone over the phone such as social security number, date of birth, driver's license number, bank account information, credit/debit card numbers, computer remote access, etc. When asked, always find out why and how that information will be used. You may always hang up, call LPSO, and we can make sure the caller is legitimate before you continue your conversation. 

• Safeguard checks, bank account numbers and credit/debit card numbers. Regularly monitor your account statements for suspicious activity.

• Shred any documents that contain sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers, birth dates or account numbers, before throwing them in the trash.

• Learn to use the password and key lock features on cell phones. Passwords should also be used to protect computers.

 

• Limit the information that you post on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media platforms. Avoid sharing personal information, addresses, and letting the public know when you will be gone from your home.

• Carry only what you need in your wallets, especially when it comes to credit cards and identification cards. It is a good rule to never carry your Social Security card.

• Be aware of others when entering PIN numbers or completing bank statements. Thieves can capture personal information using cell phone cameras.

• Learn how to monitor annual credit reports. Federal law requires the three major credit reporting agencies to provide a free report once a year. Request credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com or (877) 322‑8228.

 

• Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information. Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information and always ensure that they are using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via a web browser.

For more information about identity theft... 

National Crime Prevention Council’s Identity Theft campaign: 

http://archive.ncpc.org/programs/teens-crime-and-the-community/publications-1/preventing-theft.html

Identity Theft Resource Center: 

www.idtheftcenter.org

 

Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Site

www.ftc.gov/idtheft