BY ELLA KIRBY
Identity theft is a serious and common crime committed all over the world. On Tuesday, April 7, Stan Croll and Kate Owens from Associated Bank came to St. Norbert College and hosted a Financial Literacy Workshop in Mulva Library about this financial dilemma. They spoke on how to prevent this crime from happening, as well as what actions need to be taken if it does.
If someone commits identity theft, they want other people’s information to either spend money that will never get paid back, or commit crimes under someone else’s name, rather than their own.
A regularly used tactic that identity thieves use to get a person’s credit information is pretending to be somebody else. In most cases, they act as someone of high authority such as the IRS or police. Receiving phone calls from people that claim any high authority status and ask questions about personal information should not be taken. In order to be certain of the caller’s identity, a person can tell the caller that they will call back and then be able to determine if the caller was actually who he/she said they were.
Another way to prevent identity theft is by either shredding or burning any documents that show your personal information. There have been many occasions where individuals will steal receipts and other valuable documents from the garbage and use them to secure credit or debit account information.
In particular, online shopping can be a huge risk in giving out personal information to the wrong people. When shopping online, be sure to be very familiar with the site, and that it is a trustworthy site used to make regular purchases, such as Amazon, EBay or Walmart. Do not put personal accounts at risk by sharing credit or debit account information with a site that seems unreliable or unsafe.
Another piece of advice to help avoid identity theft is to minimize the important cards and documents that one carries with them on a daily basis. There is no need to have a social security card, passport or birth certificate on your person unless the document is needed for a specific reason. Carrying more than three cards at one time is risky; the ideal number to have is only one or two.
Additionally, do not carry a cards pin number, as this makes it extremely easy for identity thieves to gain access to personal accounts. Be sure to have account information and emergency bank numbers written down in a safe location, so that if something does happen accounts can be closed immediately.
One can be cautious and take every bit of identity theft advice and unfortunately still be a victim. If one becomes a target of identity theft, the first act should be to phone the bank and close the open accounts. Second, make the local police department aware of the situation. If it is a credit card that has been targeted, one is strongly advised to place a fraud alert on his/her credit reports.
People are constantly finding new and smarter ways of succeeding in identity theft. Take as many precautions as possible, but also be prepared to take the correct and necessary actions if it does occur.
The next Financial Literacy Workshop will be taking place on Thursday, May 7, in room 101 of the Mulva Library.