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Identity fraud bilks $16 billion; BBB offers help to prevent falling victim to this incessant crime

by jmaloni


Fri, Oct 9th 2015 10:10 am

Free document shredding and education events Saturday

Editorial by AT&T

In 2014, 12.7 million people were victims of identity theft. Data breaches continue to dominate news headlines. As hackers and ID thieves become more sophisticated, the time to know how to protect your identity is now.

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York is again partnering with Tops Friendly Markets, Shred-it, U.S. Postal Inspectors and AT&T to host "Secure your ID Day" with free document shredding and education.

"One of the best lines of defense against ID theft for both individuals and businesses is proper document destruction," said Warren Clark, president of Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York. "Education is critical. In addition to free document destruction, we will offer information about ID theft prevention, including steps everyone can take to protect their identity and a records retention schedule for people to properly manage their personal information."

According to Javelin Research, people who were part of a breach in the past year are nearly three times more likely to be an identity theft victim. The Federal Trade Commission reports ID theft was the No. 1 consumer complaint in 2014 for the 15th consecutive year.

"Given the scope and magnitude of identity theft issues and continued threats in the marketplace, Tops Friendly Markets is proud to work with BBB in doing all we can to protect our communities from becoming a victim," said Frank Curci, Tops chairman, president and CEO.

"People find comfort knowing their personal information is destroyed on the spot. Shred-it partners with BBB to offer everyone secure, efficient and confidential information destruction service at these events," said Jon Thies, district general manager, Shred-it, Buffalo and Syracuse.

AT&T is joining efforts this year, providing cybersecurity tips as part of the company's newly launched Digital You program. Digital You offers tools, tips, apps, guidance and community education events for people of all ages and levels to learn more about how to have a safe and secure online experience and how to protect themselves from issues such as digital identity theft.

"Secure Your ID Day" will be held Saturday, Oct. 10, in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse at four Tops Friendly Markets locations. Events are free and part of an identity theft prevention effort hosted by BBB offices across the country.

Join these companies from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Tops stores at 355 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca; and 3865 Union Road (corner of George Urban Boulevard), Cheektowaga

Identity theft facts:

  • Fraudsters stole $16 billion from 12.7 million U.S. residents in 2014
  • There's a new identity fraud victim every two seconds
  • Two-thirds of identity fraud victims in 2014 had previously received a data breach notification in the same year
  • U.S. data breaches tracked in 2014 hit a record high of 783

BBB offers the following tips to keep your identity safe:

•Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your card or give out your number without verifying who is asking for it. Keep your card secure and out of sight.

•Protect your debit and credit cards. Cut up old cards through the number, keep an eye on bills and billing cycles, and monitor your statements weekly for unauthorized transactions. Take receipts with you.

•Monitor your credit report. A free copy is available at annualcreditreport.com.

Don't give out personal information. Your bank, the IRS or a credit card company won't email you asking for your information; they already have it.

•Shred all personal documents you no longer need. Visit irs.gov for business records and pick up a retention schedule from BBB at "Secure Your ID Day."

•Make your passwords long and strong. Don't use obvious passwords, like birthdays. Use capital letters, characters and numbers.

•Never click on suspicious links. Links that come in unsolicited emails, text messages or in social media posts are often dangerous to your computer, phone or device.

•Do not "overshare" on social media. Set your privacy levels to high, so you know who is reading your posts.

•Protect your devices. Keep your computer, tablet and phone secure with firewalls, anti-spyware and antivirus software, and keep the operating systems up-to-date.

•Register with the National Do Not Call Registry at (888-382-1222 or donotcall.gov).

For real-time scam information, check out BBB's Scam Tracker. For consumer tips and other information, follow BBB on Twitter and Facebook.

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