This is the Better Business Bureau’s bi-annual Secure Your ID Week, a time to make sure you are taking the necessary steps against identity theft. Nebraska BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty says they want to remind residents that scammers are everywhere but there are ways to decrease your risk of having your identity stolen or compromised. He says never give out personal information – period.
Hegarty says, “If somebody is reaching out to you whether by email or by phone and asking you to verify sensitive information it is just not a good idea to do that. You need to find out who they are. Jump offline and then contact whoever they claim to be at a number you know belongs to them.”
A recent study shows that 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year. That is up 16% from 2015 and the highest figure recorded since fraud tracking started in 2004.
Hegarty says there are a number of thins you can do to decrease the risk of identity theft. Those include never giving out a Social Security number except for tax reasons, credit or to verify employment. Before sharing that information ask how it will be used and if it will be shared. Use U.S. Post Office collection boxes for outgoing mail and know your bill cycles so you can contact creditors if you don’t get a bill. Also review all bank credit card statements carefully.
Hegarty says for those who do financial business online, password protect all your financial accounts. Make sure to use a strong password and not the same one for every account. It is also a good idea to double check your firewall, anti-virus and spyware software are all up to date on your phone, computer and tablet.
The Better Business Bureau is offering several free shredding of personal documents as a way to residents to safely get rid of this information. There is an event tomorrow at Methodist Health Systems at 85th and Dodge Street from 8 a.m. until noon. There is also a shredding event in Lincoln on June 24th.