Financial Literacy Manager, Zions Bank
Last Halloween, many Davis County residents attended the musical Sleepy Hollow at the CenterPoint Legacy Theater. The music for this play was written by Kaysville resident Tom Clark. When he is not writing songs about a haunted New England town, he is helping people avoid identity theft. Tom’s day job is Retail Banking Operations Manager for Zions Bank. He sees, on a too-frequent basis, the horrible results of what can happen when someone’s identity is stolen.
Identity theft is a growing problem. Each year, millions of dollars are stolen by identity thieves. Identity theft has been the top consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past twelve years in a row. In 2011, identity fraud increased by 13 percent. In Utah in 2010, there were almost 1,500 identity theft complaints. These horror stories are not going to go away after Halloween. Since this is Protect Your Identity Week, Tom has come up with a list of 10 steps you can take to help you protect your identity.
1. Don’t carry your PIN with your credit/debit/ATM cards. It’s like leaving your keys in the car and makes it easy for thieves to rack up big balances. Memorize your PIN.
2. Never give out personal or financial information over the phone unless you initiate the call, even if the caller claims to be from your bank or other company where you do business.
3. Report lost or stolen checks immediately to the bank. With advance notice, the bank can take steps to keep crooks from withdrawing money from your checking account.
4. Store new checks in a safe place. Keep statements and check images in a safe and secure location.
5. Shred financial solicitations or statements when discarding them. Take notice of mailed offers of pre-approved credit to your child С a possible indication someone has established a credit history in your child’s name (Children may be 51 times more likely than adults to have their identity stolen).
6. If bills have suspicious items, do not ignore them С even if the dollar amount is small. Call immediately to head off potential fraud.
7. Periodically request a credit report (available annually without a charge) and check for unfamiliar accounts. Visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
8. Guard your social security number. Do not print your social security number on your checks. Keep your child’s social security number in a safe location.
9. Contact your bank immediately if you suspect fraud on your account.
10. Be very cautious of “get rich quick” schemes. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Trick or treat should be about kids dressed up like clowns or pirates, not clowns pirating your personal identity. The more you do to protect yourself against ID theft, the more secure you will be.
We want your comments! What actions do you recommend to protect yourself from identity theft?