Extension Review by Virginia Delvaux Identity theft is one of the fastest growing fraud crimes in America. How does identity theft happen? Sometimes it is caused by consumer carelessness like misplacing one's checkbook or credit card, or failing to shred trashed financial documents. Identity theft can also occur when one gives out their Social Security number to an unknown party. Identity thieves can also obtain your personal information when you complete consumer surveys and product registration cards or sign up for free prizes and or gifts.
Some of the different ways that identity thieves target youth and adults are by stealing one's wallet or purse, taking mail from an unsecured mailbox or trash, opening an account in your name, billed to you or to a different address, or opening a false bank account in your name. Identity thieves have also accessed consumer's database as an employee. A trusted person such as a roommate or relative who has easy access to your personal accounts can steal personal information. Thieves have also obtained false ID cards sold through Web sites.
One can do several things to protect themselves from becoming a victim of identity theft.
1. Watch for interruptions in billing cycles; review your financial accounts and credit report regularly for accuracy.
2. Never give your checking account, credit card, or Social Security number to any unknown callers.
3. Shred all financial papers and receipts that carry account numbers before throwing them away.
4. Remove your Social Security number from checks and drivers license.
5. When making debit or credit purchases watch your card and shield the number from others eyes at ATM machines.
6. Use guarded non-sensible PIN numbers.
7. Get off mailing lists.
8. Request that financial companies not share information with other businesses.
9. Do business with reputable companies.
10. Use secure Web sites when placing an order or transferring money. The "s" in a Web address "https://" signifies a secure site.
If you suspect were are a victim of identity theft act quickly to minimize damage and keep a detailed list of all communications. Call your local police department and report the theft. Notify your bank and/or credit union and close all affected accounts or initiate a fraud watch for six months. Request a "fraud alert" from the national credit bureaus. Report the theft to the SD Division of Consumer Protection (800-300-1986). For more information and additional suggestions for protecting yourself contact the Clay County Extension Office, 677-7111, and ask for a copy of the Identity Theft fact sheet.
June 9 � 6 p.m. � Clay County Junior Leaders Meeting, 4-H Center.
June 11 � 1 p.m. � Horticulture and Crops Judging School, 4-H Center.
June 11 � 2:30 p.m. � Family and Consumer Science, Visual Arts, and Photography Judging School, 4-H Center.
June 12-14 � 4-H Camp � Camp Lakodia, Madison.
June 15 � 9:30 a.m. � Project Make and Take Day, 4-H Center.