Florida

How to protect yourself from scams during Identity Theft Awareness Week

ORLANDO, Fla. — Chances are you know someone who’s been a victim of identity theft, but how do you prevent becoming a statistic yourself?

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is offering tips to Floridians to help protect themselves against identity theft in recognition of Identity Theft Awareness Week.

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“There are many ways you can protect yourself on a daily basis, from taking precautions while online to checking your credit report periodically,” Patronis said in a statement. “If you’re suspicious of fraud or ID theft, don’t wait until it’s too late, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”

Here are his five tips to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft:

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1. Practice safe internet use: Delete spam emails that ask for personal information and keep your antivirus and antispyware software up to date. Shop online only with secure web pages (check the bottom of your browser for an image of a lock or look for “https” in the address bar). Never send credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information via email.

2. Destroy private records: Tear up or shred credit card statements; ATM, credit, or debit card receipts; bank deposit receipts; loan solicitations; and other documents that contain private financial information.

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3. Secure your mail: Empty your mailbox quickly and get a mailbox lock. When mailing bill payments and checks, consider dropping them off at the post office or a secure mailbox.

4. Be careful with your Social Security number: Your social security number is a major target for identity thieves because it can give them access to your credit report and bank accounts. Never carry your card with you. Instead, memorize your number and keep the card in a secure place at home or in a safe deposit box. Never write or print your social security number on checks.

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5. Check your credit report: At least once a year, obtain and review your credit report for suspicious activity. You can request a free copy of your report at www.annualcreditreport.com or by contacting any one of the three major credit reporting agencies.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.