Identity thieves are constantly scheming ways to steal personal and financial information from unsuspecting consumers. AARP-Indiana Community Outreach Director Mandla Moyo says someone is a victim of identity theft every two to three seconds. He urges people to protect not only their Social Security numbers but also their date of birth and address.
He says people can take that information and open credit cards in your name and purchase big-ticket items they would not otherwise be able to afford. If your checkbook or debit card is stolen, they are able to use it to clean out your account by making bogus purchases.
Moyo says identity thieves also steal information via telephone. One common ruse is claiming to be a Microsoft representative and advising they need to fix a problem with your computer. When they sign in they are able to access stored passwords, bank account login and other personal information, which they then then use to commit fraud
Moyo encourages consumers to take advantage of the free credit reports offered by the credit bureaus and check them carefully for fraudulent activity. He also recommends freezing or locking your credit to keep thieves from using your information to open accounts. He says a credit lock can be unlocked by providing a PIN or access code. If you do discover your identity has been stolen, Moyo says you should notify the police immediately and also contact your financial institution and the credit reporting agencies.