IDENTITY THEFT ‘I need your social security number’

If your credit card statement is more than you remember charging, you could be part of the 3.7 percent of adults who fall victim to this growing financial crime.

Michael Kraus, information security officer at Home Savings, said identity theft happens at any age.

All it takes is someone getting a hold of your information: your name, birthday or social security number.

Phone solicitors normally target the elderly by saying, “Hello, I’m from your bank. There’s a discrepancy so I need your social security number.”

Normally almost anyone will fall for this when they hear “from your bank,” Kraus said.

“Banks do not ask for personal information,” said Kraus, adding that if a “bank representative” does, get his or her name and place of employment. If the said representative doesn’t comply, then he or she doesn’t really work for a bank.

Missing credit card

For Vicki Hoskin, a junior at Youngstown State University, it pays to discover.

Hoskin’s Discover credit card fell out of her wallet when she dropped it, and the company noticed.

“Discover called me because there were unusual charges on my credit card,” Hoskin said.

The thief had the card for four days, testing each transaction by charging small gas purchases, then finally making a $1,000 purchase at Wal-Mart.

Hoskin did not have to pay the balance and was issued a new account number and card.

“I was amazed Discover caught that.”

According to Kraus, if an individual discovers that their identity has been stolen, that person should first contact the policeand file a report.

Next, notify of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian or Trans Union.

Kraus said the bureau “will put warning flags on your credit report” so it won’t count against you in the future.

Saving money and identity

Another tip to help protect yourself, Kraus said, is to shred any type of mail with any of your personal information so “dumpster divers” who go through trash can’t start applying for credit cards and loans in your name. He also said to order credit reports to make sure no new accounts have been opened. If you find anything suspicious, file a report and call the bureaus. One quick tip for credit or debit cardholders is to write “photo ID required” in the card’s signature box on the back. This way, any person presenting the credit or debit card will also have to present a photo ID that matches the presenter’s

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