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 (PII). Once they have it, they can effectively become you, using your identity to open accounts, file taxes, or obtain medical coverage.
How the scam works
How do people steal your identity? With enough personal information, a scammer can pretend to be you and commit a wide range of crimes. They can make false applications for loans and credit cards, withdraw money from your bank account, or obtain services in your name. 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 essential to act quickly. Visit identitytheft.gov for information on how to stop and recover from identity theft.
How to avoid identity theft
Be careful with your personal information. Treat your personal information like the valuable commodity it is. Make sure you shred documents containing your bank account information, Social Security/Social Insurance number, 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 and 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 certain personal documents are in a safe place — preferably under lock and key — and not lying out in plain sight. Minimize personal information on checks. You do not need to include your Social Security number, driver’s license, or phone number.
Be alert to phishing attempts. Scammers are sophisticated; their phishing attempts may come via email, text, social media messages, or even phone calls. Be suspicious of any unsolicited communication asking you for personal information. Whether it is a supposed tech support call, an offer for a free cruise, or a charity plea, they may really be after your personal information.
BBB shred & e-cycle events:
Your BBB is holding two free community events for consumers and businesses to safely dispose of personal documents and unwanted electronics.
Charleston Shred Day
When: Saturday, May 13, 9 a.m. — 1 p.m.
Where: South Charleston Memorial Ice Arena, 20 RHL Blvd., South Charleston
Huntington Shred Day
When: Saturday, May 20, 9 a.m. — 1 p.m.
Where: Marshall University parking lot, corner of 3rd Avenue & 16th Street, Huntington
For more information
If you have been the victim of a scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.
Better Business Bureau serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices. Visit BBB.org/canton or call 330-454-9401.
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