NFCC® Survey Uncovers Concerns About Identity Theft

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Results underscore the need for more consumer education.

Nonprofit credit counseling and HUD housing counseling. Member agencies also offer student loan counseling and financial workshops.

National Foundation for Credit Counseling

While there are laws and tools available to help safeguard personal financial information, the responsibility for identity protection ultimately rests on each consumer.

According to the Department of Justice, there were nearly 17 million victims of identity theft in 2014. With those numbers, consumers have plenty to be concerned about. An online survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) has taken a look at levels of consumer awareness related to identity theft, and reveals how concerned people are.

“Every minute of every day credit criminals are working to stay ahead of technology and law enforcement when it comes to stealing personal information,” said Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations and external affairs for the NFCC. “While there are laws and tools available to help safeguard personal financial information, the responsibility for identity protection ultimately rests on each consumer.”

More than half (66%) of those responding to the online survey indicated that they would like to feel more protected, but don’t know what steps to take. The NFCC offers the following suggestions for those wanting to safeguard their financial data:

1.    Monitor credit activity regularly by reviewing payment activity and by checking credit reports (at least once a year). Keeping a watchful eye on credit card usage is not just good for maintaining a balanced budget, it also makes it possible to respond quickly when unauthorized activity takes place.

2.    Review checking and savings account balances daily. Even though stolen money can be replaced, the amount of consumer liability depends on how quickly the theft is reported. Taking a daily look at balances and debit card transactions helps prevent loss.

3.    Know what steps to take in case of credit fraud or ID theft. There are many good educational resources, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a comprehensive website that is easy to navigate and has a step-by-step list of actions necessary when a crime occurs.

“Staying alert and informed is the first level of defense,” continued McClary. “People should always remain vigilant when it comes to protecting their identity and financial future.”

For help with budget and debt challenges, reach out to a Certified Counselor at an NFCC Member Agency. To find a nearby location, dial (800) 388-2227, or go online to http://www.nfcc.org. For assistance in Spanish, call (800) 682-9832.

The NFCC September poll question and results are as follows:

Regarding identity theft:

You know exactly what steps to take to protect yourself, and have put them in place. 17%

You’d like to feel more protected, but don't know what steps to take. 66%

You think that efforts to protect yourself are a waste of time, as the crooks manage to stay ahead of the prevention strategies. 9%

You are not concerned. 7%

Note: The NFCC’s September Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the home page of the NFCC website from September 1 – 30, 2015, and was answered by 563 individuals.

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The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC Members annually help millions of consumers through more than 600 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit nfcc.org.

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