Identity Theft Prevention

By: Keith Jones Email
By: Keith Jones Email

Thursday, Governor Tim Kaine announced proposals to guard against what are considered the fastest growing crimes in the United States. According to USA Today, one in four homes is hit with identity theft or credit fraud.

People tend to know their identities might be stolen, but with so many people being very busy, they might not want to take the time to go to a physical shop to make purchases.

"One-hundred percent of my Christmas shopping was done online," says Rush Earman.

So your identity can be stolen if people are not careful about its security.

Staunton Police Officer Scott Smith says, "It does happen a lot in the city to all different age groups. Avoid going out on the Internet and giving out your social security number, date of birth, address, unless you know exactly who you're dealing with."

Smith also says to avoid giving information over the phone and through the mail. You can also protect yourself by being careful of what you throw in the trash, because it may contain personal information you don't want to share.

"If I'm ordering something and they're saying they need the information to ship it to me, name and address of where to ship to is obviously something that I have to give them at that time," says Earman. "Social Security numbers do not go out and a lot of other personal information will not make it."

According to Smith's advice, Earman is playing it safe. Though the threat is always there, you just need to keep a close eye on your bills.

"Reviewing your bank statement, monitoring your credit report often, credit card statements coming in the mail of charges that you haven't authorized," says Smith.

If you're wondering whether you're identity has been stolen, Staunton police say to call the local police department or your bank. Another important tip is to ask the DMV not to put your social security number on your driver's license.

In Thursday's proposal, Kaine says companies should be required to notify customers if their personal information is accidentally made public. He also wants to allow Virginians to put a freeze on their credit reports, ensuring that no one tampers with the information.


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