Identity Theft Awareness Week Is Here

Identity Theft Awareness Week Is Here
Identity Theft
Photo Credit: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com

Consumer issues are always top of mind here at CarProUSA so we want to bring your attention to Identity Theft Awareness Week, going on now. It�s a week that takes on an even larger meaning during Covid, a time that�s brought a higher risk of identity theft.

Reports of ID theft doubled in 2020 over 2019 according to the Federal Trade Commission. Some of that has to do with stimulus checks. The FTC says repeatedly, identity thieves targeted government funds earmarked to help individuals and small businesses hard hit financially by the pandemic. Reports of ID theft involving unemployment insurance benefits also skyrocketed last year, according to the FTC, from 12,900 reports in 2019 to 394,280 reports in 2020.

The uptick in ID theft underscores the importance of Identity Theft Week, an annual effort aimed at raising awareness as well as highlighting ways consumers can reduce their risk of ID theft. More data from the Better Business Bureau adds to the big picture. The BBB says its Scam Tracker shows that more than $1 million was lost to identity theft in the U.S. last year, with 14% of Scam Tracker submissions coming from Texas consumers.

The BBB says with both the FTC and BBB seeing an increase in reported ID thefts, it�s important for consumers to be aware of potential risks.

What to Watch Out For

While scammers could try to reach you via email or fraudulent website, the BBB says phone calls are the most common method used in identity theft. According to the BBB, 70% of Texans that reported identity theft to BBB in 2020 were contacted over the phone.

The BBB says:

Many tactics can be used to steal someone�s identity. You may encounter a phishing scam that collects your personal data, a government imposter insisting they need your Medicare number or a thief that makes purchases using your stolen financial information.

The BBB relays one ID Theft case in Texas, in which a Texas victim lost more than $16,000 to a scammer who had accessed their Social Security number: �I received a letter from the Social Security Administration informing me that my benefits would be automatically deposited into my account. I did not sign up for these benefits, someone else did. At least after talking to the Social Security office payments stopped going to the scammer. But it continues to be a nightmare.�

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to help reduce your risk of ID theft.

  • Know which data is valuable. Scammers can easily steal your identity using your Social Security number or credit card information, but they can also use identifiers such as your home address, email or answers to common security questions such as your mother�s maiden name. Never share this data online, only disclose it to trusted individuals when necessary.

  • Take precautions. Regularly checking your credit report and bank statements can help you recognize suspicious activity early and quickly shut down fraud. You can also take preventative measures to protect your digital data by creating strong passwords and utilizing multi factor authentication.

  • Stay updated. Software updates include the latest, and most effective, security features. These features offer extra protection against scammers trying to break into your devices and any viruses they leave behind, which can put you at further risk for identity theft in the future.

Source BBB.

If you should become a victim of identity theft, follow our instructions here.

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