Tell EVERYONE – It’s Privacy Day, Jan. 28

So I get this postcard from a Kansas vet clinic the other day reminding Judy that her cat Gabbi is due for her vaccinations. The funny part is the postcard had my name and my Cincinnati home address on it. I looked up the address to learn the clinic is legit and figured I’d call to explain I might not make the appointment because:

A. Our family doesn’t have a cat.

B. The drive would take a few days because Kansas is really far from Cincinnati.

C. Our 15 year old family dog just recently passed away so at the present time, we don’t need a vet.

The lady who answered the phone was very understanding, expressed her condolences and explained I was the fourth person who called about the error. The mailing house made a mistake but rest assured, Gabbi was in for her shots and to please toss the post card. We had a chuckle over the mailhouse mishap and exchanged goodbyes. As I stood in the kitchen staring at the address, I couldn’t quite toss the post card because I got to thinking. Where else is my name and address floating around? Sure, we get forwarded mail from the previous owner of the house or even the neighbor up the street but this was just plain weird. Hmmm.

BBB® warns all the time about consumer identity fraud. Statistics on the number of thefts are on the rise in the United States. The criminals who commit this fraud use a variety of methods, from stealing credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, ATM cards, social security numbers, telephone calling cards, and other key pieces of personal information.

Millions – no wait, BILLIONS of dollars and hours are lost by innocent people because thieves like to sneak in to steal these items unbeknownst to the victim until it’s too late. The trouble is, they are becoming more and more sophisticated. What I didn’t know is the Federal Trade Commission keeps tabs on this activity on this as well and each year, they educate consumers on how they can protect themselves as well as how to outsmart these guys. Check out what they have to offer on Data Privacy Day, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 but also, take these tips from BBB into consideration:

  • Don’t carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport in your wallet or purse, except when necessary.

  • When using an ATM, shield the screen or keypad so “shoulder surfers” cannot read your Personal Identification Number (PIN) or other data.

  • Take ATM, credit card and other receipts with you, and either save them in a safe place, or destroy them in such way that they cannot be read. Shred sensitive documents before disposing. Review all monthly charge and bank account statements for any unknown entries.

I’m glad Gabbi is healthy and up to date on all of her shots but I sure hope the mailing house straightens out the error it caused. In the interim, I’ll be casting a cautious eye over my own identity with a little more scrutiny. Start with someone you Trust. Visit bbb.org.

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About Sandra Guile

Sandra is the PR Specialist for BBB Cincinnati, promoting BBB's message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, blogging, media relations, press releases, web content and other written materials. Her goal is to connect with consumers and business owners in a trustworthy environment and encouraging best practices.