S.D. lowest in I.D. theft

S.D. lowest in I.D. theft Residents of South Dakota are less likely than citizens of any other state to be the targets of identity theft, accoring to a South Dakota State University specialist.

SDSU Extension Family Resource Management Specialist Liz Gorham said identity theft seems to be a factor of population size � more populated states show a higher rate of identity theft.

"The number of reported victims of identity theft nationwide in 2003, according to the Federal Trade Commission, was 214,905," Gorham said. "There were 150 complaints filed by South Dakota victims. South Dakota ranks 50th, having the lowest theft rate in the nation in the proportional number of fraud victims, with 19.6 victims per 100,000 population. In comparison, Arizona ranks first with 122.4 victims per 100,000 population. Of the surrounding states, Minnesota ranks 28th, Nebraska ranks 34th, Wyoming ranks 42nd, Iowa ranks 45th, and North Dakota ranks 49th."

However, some South Dakotans are falling prey to identity theft each year, Gorham said. She recommended some simple actions to protect yourself from identity theft:

Watch for interruptions in billing cycles.

Guard the use of your Social Security number � don't use it on checks or on your driver's license.

Don't give out personal identification numbers to unsolicited callers.

Don't let debit or credit cards out of your sight when making purchases.

Use non-sensible PIN numbers and shield your use of them at ATM sites.

Practice the shredding or burning of personal information before discarding it.

Get in the habit of checking your credit report for mistakes every year.

Use only secure Web sites for making purchases.

Become familiar with the Federal Trade Commission's affidavit as a guide for documenting identity theft (http://www.ftc.gov/bc p/conline/pubs/credit/affidavit.pd).

South Dakota State University Extension offers a complimentary presentation to groups detailing how identity theft takes place, how to protect yourself from identity theft, and how to seek restitution if targeted by identity thieves. Call your local county Extension office for more information.

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