ACCC Shares Tips on How Consumers Can Avoid Identify Scams

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American Consumer Credit Counseling highlights the importance of being informed about scams and how to protect against them

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Identity theft and scams resulting in financial loss are more common than consumers realize.

Each year millions of Americans have their identity stolen. It can take months and sometimes even years before a consumer’s name and credit are back in good standing. With all the inventive ways scammers have developed to steal one’s identity, the best tool to help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft is to be informed about how to spot scams before it’s too late. National nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling provides consumers with the necessary information needed to avoid identify theft.

“Identity theft and scams resulting in financial loss are more common than consumers realize,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling, which is based in Newton, MA. “With so many different ways of accessing your personal information, having the knowledge to identify a scam is essential in protecting yourself and your finances.”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 17 million Americans were victims of scams and identity theft in 2014 – about 7 percent of the U.S. population. Of these victims nearly half experienced some level of emotional distress.

Although it can be difficult to detect a scam before suffering financial loss, American Consumer Credit Counseling provides useful tips for how consumers can protect themselves:

1. Don’t give out your account number over the phone - Unless you know the company and understand why the information is necessary, you should never divulge private account information over the phone. Be aware of fraudulent tele-marketers calling to say you have won a prize or can qualify for a major credit card regardless of past credit history. Companies do not ask for bank account information unless you have specifically agreed to this payment method. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out why they need the information they are asking you for.

2. Beware of any unsolicited emails – You may have seen websites or received emails offering free credit reports. Some of these online operators use these sites to capture your personal information to either sell to others or commit fraud. If you receive an email offering free credit reports, don’t reply or click the link in the email. Double check the email address you are responding to. Be skeptical of any misspellings or grammatical errors as well as unusual email addresses. Use only secure websites or ones that display a lock symbol or “https” in the browser bar. Keep in mind that no legitimate credit report site will ask for a PIN, the three-digit code on the back of your credit card, or your passport number.

3. Keep your personal information personal – While it may seem harmless to answer a few survey questions, it can be detrimental to your bank account. Pretexting is the practice of gaining your personal information under false pretenses. This information is often then used to call your financial institute, pretend to be you, and gain access to your account. Be careful and aware of the information you are giving out.

4. Avoid offers of easy credit – No one can guarantee credit. There are deceptive ads that may offer unsecured credit cards, secured credit cards, or not specify a card type. The ads usually lead you to believe you can get a card simply by calling the number listed. Before deciding whether to give you a credit card, legitimate credit providers examine your credit report. These businesses also may offer to clean-up your credit history for a fee. However, only time and good credit habits will restore your credit worthiness.

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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