CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: How to avoid falling victim to identity theft

Updated: Feb. 6, 2022 at 6:00 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Facebook quiz can seem like simple fun, but you should think twice before you answer personal questions on a public forum.

Those answers can also be common security questions for your accounts. Identity thieves will take note.

“Don’t overshare, this is where scammers can gather bits and pieces,” says Heidi Kiecker, fraud officer, Fox Communities Credit Union.

Kiecker says identity thieves target your personal information to get your money.

“They pretend to be from an organization or business you know. Sometimes the consumer gives the information to them thinking that they’re giving it to a legitimate organization,” says Kiecker.

Identity thieves can open new credit cards, take out loans or get unemployment in your name.

“You want to monitor your accounts, your financial statements, credit reports, keeping your personal and financial documents, passport, drivers license in a secure location,” says Kiecker. “If you have any paper documents, receipts with personal info, shred them. Don’t leave mail in your mailbox. Be cautious when you’re sending payments out of your mail. I know it’s an old school way that scammers can get your information, but it does still happen.”

Here are signs you could be a victim:

  • You get a bill in the mail for financial activity or medical services you didn’t receive.
  • Your bank or credit card statement lists purchases or withdrawals you didn’t make.
  • You have trouble filing taxes because the IRS says it already has a return from you.

“It’s just really scary to think that information is out there, but if we can bring more awareness to consumers to educate them and try to protect themselves and be proactive,” says Kiecker.

In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission had more than 8,000 reports of identity theft in Wisconsin. Victims can spend countless hours chasing down phony accounts and repairing damaged credit.

RESOURCES

Fox Communities Credit Union ID Theft Prevention: https://foxcu.org/preventing-fraud/identity-theft-prevention/

Federal Trade Commission: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-know-about-identity-theft

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