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Terry Savage: Identity theft epidemic

Terry Savage, Tribune Content Agency on

Identity theft is becoming its own pandemic. It grew exponentially as unsophisticated state governments processed unemployment complaints without proper security precautions. The U.S. Department of Labor estimated earlier this year that at least $89 billion of the estimated $896 billion in federal unemployment program funds were paid out improperly!

But the problem has grown far beyond fraudulent unemployment claims. The FBI just reported there have been 30,000 ID theft cases nationwide in the first four months of 2021, compared to 40,000 cases in all of last year!

Fraudsters have moved far beyond creating false unemployment claims. Emboldened, international scam rings are using texts and emails in sophisticated attempts to get you to click on links and reveal private information.

Seniors are often the victims, but even the supposedly tech-savvy are not immune. The texts and emails no longer have crude spelling errors and obvious flaws. They copy corporate and government logos carefully.

Even worse, they have learned to appeal to your existing concerns about identity theft, advising you to click or sign in through a link in order to view suspicious unemployment reports made in your name or suspicious banking or purchase activity. When you click to “sign in,” you are giving away your own information!

Protection and prevention

 

View every text from an unknown source as suspicious, and check domain names on unsolicited emails. Think twice. And never click. Just delete. You aren’t a victim until you click!

Then, if you think that you really might have an issue, contact your bank or financial institution directly. Nothing is so urgent that you need to know immediately. And if message did come from your bank, they know how to contact you again. Scammers lose interest if you don’t reply to them.

My advice to everyone is to READ, and then FREEZE, your credit at each of the three bureaus!

You can get a free copy of your report from each of the three bureaus by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. Or call the numbers below:

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