ACCC Explains How Consumers Can Minimize Their Risk of Identity Theft

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In honor of National Consumer Protection Week, national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling shares four key steps on how to reduce risk

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By guarding their personal information, consumers can make it more difficult for identity thieves to steal valuable data and have a better opportunity to minimize the financial damage if a theft occurs.

Millions of Americans have their identity stolen each year. Identity theft is a scary situation and can cause a lot of damage to consumers’ credit and finances. It is more important than ever that consumers take the steps necessary to minimize their risk of identity theft, which is why national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling has provided consumers with four steps to protect themselves.

“Unfortunately, nothing can guarantee that you won’t fall victim to identity theft, but there are important steps consumers can take to minimize their risk,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling, which is based in Newton, MA. “By guarding their personal information, consumers can make it more difficult for identity thieves to steal valuable data and have a better opportunity to minimize the financial damage if a theft occurs.”

According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research, $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million consumers in the United States in 2016, compared to $15.3 billion stolen from 13.1 million consumers in 2015. Identity theft complaints have increased by more than 47 percent since 2014.

In an effort to help minimize the risk of identity theft (http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education/identity-theft/), ACCC has provided consumers with four necessary steps they should take to help protect themselves and their financial security.

STEP 1: PROTECT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER:

Change your Social Security number on your driver’s license to a State Identification Number. Also remove your Social Security card from your purse or wallet and do not write or print your social security number on your checks. If you have to provide your number for anything, offer only the last 4 digits and request that your number be taken off any loan applications.

STEP 2: PROTECT YOUR CREDIT CARDS:

Carry your credit cards separately from your wallet and void any incorrect receipts. Report any questionable charges in writing and send by registered mail to the credit card companies. Keep a secured copy of all account numbers and sign any new cards you receive. Never leave your credit cards unattended and protect all accounts with a password. Destroy account numbers on discarded cards and cut through account numbers.

STEP 3: PROTECT YOUR ATM/DEBIT CARD:

Review all monthly statements for accuracy and report any discrepancies you may find. Check account activity regularly and do not carry your pin number on your person. Be alert for "peering eyes" when making a purchase and do not leave ATM receipts behind.

STEP 4: PROTECT YOUR FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS:

Shred all personal information in a shredder whenever possible and do not carry extra cards or identifying documents.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

  •     For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
  •     For bankruptcy counseling, call 866-826-6924
  •     For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
  •     Or visit us online at http://www.ConsumerCredit.com

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling and financial education concerning debt solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education.aspx

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