With this being Identity Theft Awareness Week, on Tuesday, state Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis provided Floridians with tips on how to protect yourself against identity theft.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), they received about 1.4 million reports of identity theft, which is double the number from 2019.
“As tax season is upon us, now is a great time to remind Floridians to stay vigilant and make sure you know the warning signs of scams and identity theft. Florida ranks second in the nation in identity theft reports and when your financial information gets into the wrong hands, the consequences can be devastating. Yet there are many ways you can protect yourself on a daily basis, from taking precautions while online to checking your credit report periodically. If you are suspicious of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com and always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Patronis said.
Five Tips to Reduce the Risk of Becoming Victim of Identity Theft
1. Practice Safe Internet Use:
Delete spam emails that ask for personal information and keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up to date. Shop online only with secure web pages (check the bottom of your browser for an image of a lock or look for “https” in the address bar). Never send credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information via email.
2. Destroy Private Records:
Tear up or shred credit card statements; ATM, credit, or debit card receipts; bank deposit receipts; loan solicitations; and other documents that contain private financial information.
3. Secure Your Mail:
Empty your mailbox quickly and get a mailbox lock. When mailing bill payments and checks, consider dropping them off at the post office or a secure mailbox.
4. Be Careful with Your Social Security Number:
Your social security number is a major target for identity thieves because it can give them access to your credit report and bank accounts. Never carry your card with you. Instead, memorize your number and keep the card in a secure place at home or in a safe deposit box. Never write or print your social security number on checks.
5. Check Your Credit Report:
At least once a year, obtain and review your credit report for suspicious activity. You can request a free copy of your report at www.annualcreditreport.com or by contacting any one of the three major credit reporting agencies.