Better Business Bureau serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
Scams are designed to either steal your money, or steal your identity in order to steal your money later. Scammers have all kinds of techniques to collect personally identifiable information. Once they have it, they can effectively become you, using your identity to open accounts, file taxes, or obtain medical coverage.
HOW IDENTITY THEFT SCAMS WORK
With enough information, a scammer can take over your identity and commit a wide range of crimes. They are capable of making false applications for loans and credit cards, withdraw money from your bank account, or obtain services. They can also sell your information to others on the internet.
Identity theft may take a long time to detect. Scammers typically ensure that bills and statements for new accounts are not sent to your address. You may not notice what is happening until the scammer has already inflicted substantial damage on your assets, credit, and reputation.
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, it is very important to act quickly. Visit www.identitytheft.gov to obtain more information on how to stop and then recover from identity theft.
TIPS TO SPOT THIS SCAM
• Look for unexplained withdrawals, charges, and accounts. Review your bank account and credit card statements regularly. Look for unfamiliar charges, accounts, or withdrawals. Know when your bills are due; one tip-off for identity theft is when you stop receiving certain bills. This can happen because scammers have changed the address associated with your bank account or credit card. If bills don’t arrive on time, follow up with your creditors. Debt collectors may call you about debts that aren’t yours. You can also set up automatic alerts on your accounts so you are notified every time a transaction is made.
• Check your credit reports regularly for unauthorized inquiries and accounts. You have the right to check your credit report with each of the three major credit bureaus once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only free crediting reporting service authorized by the Federal Trade Commission. Space these checks out across the year to know fairly quickly if something is wrong.
• Be careful with your personal information. Make sure you shred any documents that have your bank account information, Social Security or other personal information. These include credit card applications, insurance forms, financial statements, health forms and billing statements from utilities and phone service. Cut up expired credit and debit cards, making sure to cut through the numbers, before you dispose of them.· Secure personal documents at home. If you have roommates, employ outside help or have contractors in your home, make sure personal documents are in a safe place and not lying out in plain sight. Minimize personal information on checks. You don’t need to include your Social Security number, driver’s license or phone number.
• Be alert to phishing attempts. Scammers are sophisticated and their phishing attempts may come via email, text, social media message, even phone calls. Be suspicious of any unsolicited communication asking for personal information. Whether it’s a supposed tech support call, an offer for a free cruise, or a charity plea, they may really be after your personal information.
FOR BBB INFORMATION To report a scam, go to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your experience can help others avoid falling victim. Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, follow us on social media, and more!
BBB’S SHRED & E-CYCLE EVENT
WHAT Your BBB is holding a free community event for consumers and businesses to safely dispose of personal documents and unwanted electronics.
WHEN 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 10.
WHERE Central Catholic High School parking lot, 4824 Tuscarawas St. West in Perry Township.
DETAILS Learn more at the shortened link, bit.ly/2021shredevent, or 330-454-9401.