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Better Business Bureau offers tips to reduce the risk of identity theft

Identity fraud is a rampant issue and scammers continue to revamp their tactics. During the week of February 1-5, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recognizes Identity Theft Awareness Week with steps consumers can take to help reduce their risk of identity theft and how to recover from it.

With enough personal information, a scammer can steal your identity to commit fraud and other crimes. But identity theft may take a long time to detect and consumers may not notice what’s happening until the scammer has already inflicted substantial damage to their assets, credit and reputation. In 2020, Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest (BBB) Scam Tracker reported 40 identity theft frauds and over $1.2 million in monetary loss. BBB provides free seminars for consumers and businesses to take preventative actions against identity theft.

How to Avoid Identity Theft Scams:

  • Look for unexplained account withdrawals and charges. Review bank account and credit card statements regularly. Know when bills are due and set up automatic alerts on accounts so notification is received every time a transaction is made.
  • Check credit reports regularly for unauthorized inquiries and fraudulent accounts. In the U.S., free annual credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus are available at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Be careful with personal information. Treat personal information like a valuable commodity. Make sure any document with bank account information, a social security number or other private information is kept in a safe and secure place, and shredded after use.
  • Be alert to phishing attempts. Scammers are sophisticated and phishing attempts may come via email, text, social media messaging, but the number one reported method of contact is the telephone. Be suspicious of any unsolicited communication asking for personal information.

Visit ftc.gov/idtheft to find additional resources and report scams to the BBB Scam Tracker. To learn more about how consumers and businesses can protect themselves from identity theft, visit BBB’s Scam Tip Page.

This article was released by the Better Business Bureau.