Many South Dakotans go to great lengths to protect themselves from being robbed. We lock our doors, install alarm systems in our homes and cars, and insure our valuables. Many of us, however, do not pay an equal amount of attention to the crime that affected more than eleven million consumers last year—the crime of identity theft.
To increase awareness and provide identity theft protection resources, Lutheran Social Services Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) joined with national and local partners to host Protect Your Identity Week, October 20-27, 2012, during National Crime Prevention Month.
In Sioux Falls, Mayor Mike Huether has proclaimed October 20-27, 2012, Protect Your Identity Week, encouraging citizens to be proactive and participate in the many free events offered by CCCS.
Speaking of events, this Saturday, October 27, CCCS is hosting a document shredding event ‘Shred-A-Palooza’ from 10AM – 12PM at Active Generations, 2300 W 46th Street in Sioux Falls. It’s free – so bring as many boxes as you carry for secure disposal!
“Unscrupulous individuals are continually finding new ways to rob us of our good names and good credit, making it critical for South Dakotans – young and old – to stay updated on the latest protection techniques.” –Sheri Ekdom, Director, Lutheran Social Services Consumer Credit Counseling Service
To protect your personal information, CCCS recommends the following tips from the Federal Trade Commission:
- Read your credit reports. You have a right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order all three reports at once, or order one report every four months. To order, go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Read your bank, credit card, and account statements, and the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan. If a statement has mistakes or doesn’t come on time, contact the business.
- Shred all documents that show personal, financial, and medical information before you throw them away. Note that when shredding documents at home, a clever thief can piece materials back together if they have been strip cut. Always invest in a crosscutting shredder.
- Don’t respond to email, text, and phone messages that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information this way. Delete the messages.
- Create passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.
- If you shop or bank online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. An encrypted site has “https” at the beginning of the web address; “s” is for secure.
- If you use a public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall on your computer.
- Set your computer’s operating system, web browser, and security system to update automatically.
For more information or to talk to someone about concerns regarding identity theft, contact us at 888-258-2227. Hablamos Español.