MIAMI VALLEY — Identity theft continues to be a problem for Americans. In fact, reports indicate nearly 33% of Americans have faced some kind of identity theft attempt in their lives and that number is only expected to increase. Experts believe there’s a new victim every 22 seconds. Shockingly, losses from identity theft cost Americans $5.8 billion.
To help fight back against identity theft, the Better Business Bureau is offering a free shredding event on Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Routsong Funeral Home in Centerville. This is a great way to dispose of your files – credit card statements, old checks, IRS tax returns, etc. – safely. You may bring up to five boxes of materials to shred and the first 350 cars in line are guaranteed shredding.
The BBB offers these additional tips for avoiding identity theft:
• Protect your personal information. Make sure you shred documents containing your bank account information, Social Security Number or other personal information. These include credit card applications, insurance forms, financial statements, health forms and billing statements from utilities and phone service. Cut up credit/debit cards you no longer use.
• Secure your sensitive documents in a safe place in your home, preferably a lock and key system.
• Don’t click on unsolicited links in emails, texts and social media messages.
• Use strong, long passwords. Avoid using your birth date, child’s name or birth date, mother’s maiden name and digits from your Social Security number. Also, change your password every three months and don’t use the same password for every account.
• Shred outdated documents. While you should keep your tax returns forever, shred supporting documents for your tax returns after seven years. After one year, shred bank statements, pay stubs and medical bills. Shred utility bills a month after they’ve been paid.
• Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for the latest updates and run virus scans regularly.
• Use multifactor authentication. Use security questions, texts, emails, fingerprints, retina recognition, etc., to decrease the likelihood of a successful cyber-attack.
• Keep your Wi-Fi connection secure. Cybercriminals can hack home routers and gain access to various internet-connected devices.
• Only use secure websites. Double-check that a site’s has “https” in it’s web address and a locked padlock symbol is displayed before you provide personal information.
• Look for unexplained account activity, such as unfamiliar charges or withdrawals.
• Know when your bills are due. One tip-off for identity theft is when you stop receiving certain bills.
• Check your credit reports regularly for unauthorized inquiries and accounts. In the U.S., you have the right to check your credit report with each of the three major credit bureaus annually at AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft, report it to BBB.org/scamtracker or ftc.gov/complaint. For more information about identity theft, visit bbb.org/all/scamtips or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.