There are a million ways to steal someone’s identity and once a thief has your personal information, they can max out your credit cards, drain your bank account, and ruin your credit rating. Identity theft scams come in all shapes and sizes – friends or grandchildren “stranded” in a foreign country, the hotel front desk “verifying” your credit card in the middle of the night, “charity” solicitations from groups you’ve never supported in the past.
How to Avoid This Scam:
- Install a firewall and anti-virus program to protect your computer and personal information. Update these programs frequently.
- Update your operating system and web browser software regularly.
- Protect your passwords by keeping them in a safe place. Your passwords should have at least eight characters and should contain numbers, symbols and letters. Create different passwords for each online account that you have.
- Never give personal or financial information to unsolicited callers.
If You Fear Your Personal Information has been Compromised:
- Immediately contact your debit or credit card issuer to report the misuse and request a new card.
- Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their ID Theft Clearinghouse at www.ftc.gov/idtheft. This will allow the FTC to identify patterns associated with the unauthorized transactions and investigate the source of the data breach.