Orange County Chairman Donald P. Wagner and Treasurer Shari Freidenrich are kicking off Identity Theft Awareness Week by urging Orange County residents to take steps to safeguard their personal information. Identity Theft Awareness Week formally runs nationwide from January 30 through February 3, 2023 aiming to draw attention both to the ways that fraudsters operate and how to minimize the likelihood of becoming a victim. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 1.4 million reports of identity theft in 2021.
“Identity theft is a pervasive threat our residents face every day,” said Chairman Wagner. “From phishing scams targeting veterans, to fraudulent phone calls that prey on the elderly, it is vitally important that the public is educated on how to recognize when they’re being conned and arm themselves against the tactics that criminals employ to steal personal information.”
An increasing area of identity theft is employment/tax-related fraud, whereby criminals use stolen social security numbers and other personal information to file fraudulent tax refunds. Prior to the pandemic, the FTC had been reporting under 70,000 cases a year. Those figures have jumped to over 110,000 per year in the post-pandemic era. “Unfortunately, with income tax season upon us, taxpayers specifically are being targeted by conmen who obtain income tax refund checks by using stolen data,” said Treasurer Freidenrich. “It is my hope that by bringing larger awareness to the public about the ways their personal information is gathered, we can provide education to prevent our taxpayers from losing their hard-earned money.”
The Federal Trade Commission will be hosting a series of free online seminars, podcasts and other events educating the public on how to avoid and recover from identity fraud. For a full calendar of Identity Theft Awareness Week events, visit consumer.ftc.gov/features/identity-theft-awareness-week, and for more identity theft resources, visit consumer.ftc.gov/features/identity-theft.
Treasurer Freidenrich partners with the FTC to provide a weekly Financial Tip of the Week, which you can subscribe to at octreasurer.com/financialtips. Scan the QR code to see an identity theft flyer or go online to octreasurer.com/2023IdentityTheftAwarenessWeek. Printed copies are available at the County Service Center located at 601 N. Ross Street in Santa Ana.