At least 2,500 Oklahomans have their identities stolen every year and the numbers keep climbing. So someone doesn't run up charges on our credit cards when our backs our turned, I've learned four things identity thieves don't want us to know.
1. Our trash is their treasure. Tossing those unwanted credit card offers in the trash allows some savvy crooks to sign up under our names. Instead, shred all personal documents, from unsolicited credit card applications to store receipts.
2. Our Facebook profile is a cheat sheet. Social media users top the list of potential fraud victims and here's why. Nothing on the internet is entirely private. So never post birth dates, home addresses or anything else that could be used to impersonate us.
3. The next one unknowingly involves our family and friends. Fraudsters can hack email addresses and pose as someone we know, asking to wire money for an emergency. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book and still works, especially on the elderly.
4. Identity thieves love to prey on us when we're looking for a job. They prowl job boards and zero in on anyone looking for quick cash. A job offer that requires we pay before starting is a red flag.
Prevent Identity Theft:
* Never give out your Social Security number. Treat it as confidential information.
* Commit all passwords to memory. Never write them down or carry them with you.
* When using an ATM, make sure no one is hovering over you and can see you enter your password.
* When participating in an online auction, try to pay the seller directly with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if the merchandise does not arrive or was misrepresented. If possible, avoid paying by check or money order.
* Adopt an attitude of healthy skepticism toward websites that offer prizes or giveaways. Chances are, all that's been "won" is the opportunity to buy something you didn't want in the first place.
* Choose a commercial online service that offers parental control features.
* Tell your children never to give out their address telephone number password school name or any other personal information.
* Make sure your children know to never agree to meet face-to-face with someone they've met online without discussing it with you. Only if you decide that it's okay to meet their "cyber-friend" should they arrange to meet this person, and then the meeting should be in a familiar public place in the presence of a trusted adult.
* Tell your children never to respond to messages that have bad words, are scary, or just seem weird.
* Tell your children never to enter an area that charges for services without asking you first.
* Tell children never send a picture of themselves to anyone without your permission.
* Make sure that access to the Internet at your children's school is monitored by adults.