Are You A Target for Identity Theft?
September 23, 2015

Learn About Identity Theft

Pennsylvania Identity Theft
Identity theft is a serious and growing problem in Pennsylvania.

Identity theft continues to be a growing problem.  As businesses adapt and develop new security measures to defeat the existing ways our information is stolen, criminals develop and create new ways to steal it!

Is It Really A Concern You Should Worry About?

Absolutely!  According to the most recent statistics published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), incidences of credit card fraud rose by more than 4% in the past 2 years.  Pennsylvania ranked 16th among the states for incidences of identity theft with more than 10,400 complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission.  The real number is likely much higher as many victims never file formal complaints with their local police or the FTC.

Types Of Identity Theft Are Changing, Which Is Concerning.

In the past, the majority of cases started with some type of credit card fraud.  Improvements to credit card security and the development of software to alert companies to potential fraud, has reduced such fraud claims.  The new “chip” credit cards will also help to reduce credit card fraud.  However, the United States’ decision not to require a security code with the “chip” reduces the benefit of this new security feature.  Most foreign countries require the use of a security code, even with new “chip” credit cards.  If you are traveling outside the United States, call your credit card company and establish a security code to avoid issues.

Growing Areas Of Identity Theft.

The fastest growing area of identity theft is theft of government benefits – income tax refunds, disability and social security benefits, etc.  I’m sure you have read the recent articles about the IRS computer system being victimized!

Another area of rapid growth is health care fraud.  This involves someone using your social security number or health insurance benefits number to obtain medical care.  Now your numbers are linked to a complete strangers for medical purposes.  Many medical records are stored electronically which means the next time you are admitted to a medical facility, it may not be your information they are seeing.  It may be a strangers health history and medications listing. Worse yet, it could be the wrong blood type!

“How Do I Prevent Identity Theft?”

The real answer is you cannot completely prevent it.  You can, however, take steps to reduce your risk.

Here are two (2) steps to protect yourself against Identity Theft.  They may sound too basic but they are crucial!

First, pay attention when you are outside your house.  Who is in line behind you?  Who is standing near the cash register?  Is there someone near the ATM machine on their cell phone?  Be careful of giving out or using personal information where it can be observed or overheard by others.  Cell phones can pick up conversations from a great distance and can be used to record you when you type your pin or password.  Always use a shoulder or hand to cover the keypad when typing a pin or password.

Second, use sophisticated pins and passwords.  Think of an 8-10 word sentence and use the letters as your password.  It could be the 1st letters or make it harder and use the last letters or the 3rd letter in each word.  Make sure the sentence contains numbers and is not easily traceable to you.  For example do not use,  “My birth date is May 31.”  Thieves can find your birth-date pretty easily on the internet.  Consider something like “Falling leaves are ugly, slippery and there are 5000”  The password could be “flausata5”  or “gseyydee0”  Both would be pretty hard to figure out unless you knew the sentence!  It is highly recommended that your password exceed 10 digits to reduce your risk.  The longer it is the more difficult it will be to guess it. Of course, you cannot write the sentence on your ATM card!

Be proactive in protecting your identity and your future.

Attend our FREE Seminar, “Are You A Target For Identity Theft?”, on September 29, 2015 at 5:30. For more information or to register, call  717-724-9821.

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