‘Tis the season of giving — and taking.
What thieves are taking is your identity — and your money.
One in four Georgians has been the victim of identity theft or fraud, according to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey.
The auto club said credit card accounts, Social Security numbers and e-commerce accounts are top targets for identity thieves.
Every year billions of dollars are stolen from millions of U.S. consumers (Javelin Strategy & Research, 2018 Identity Fraud Study).
So, AAA conducted a study to gauge consumer confidence in how information is used and stored. What did they find?
The majority of Georgia consumers — 88 percent — are worried about being an identity theft victim.
Where do consumers worry the most about using their credit cards or sharing personal information? Mostly gas stations and online retailers. Of course, we know those are not the only places that your ID can be compromised.
About 70 percent of Georgia residents said they only have EVM (chip-based) credit cards, yet half of consumers reported shopping at a store in the past three months that did not have an activated or working chip card reader, the survey said.
“Identity thefts are on the rise and fraudsters methods to gain access to your personal information is becoming more sophisticated,” said Garrett Townsend, Georgia Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “It is vital for consumers to take steps now to keep their financial and personal information secure.”
In addition to its own credit monitoring services, AAA offered a few tips to help prevent identify theft:
— Review your credit card statement, bank account and credit report regularly. Be on the lookout for any unauthorized transactions and report them immediately to the affected account.
— Do not respond to unsolicited requests for personal information. Identity thieves utilize “cold calling” or “phishing” schemes to solicit personal information including your name, birthdate, Social Security number and bank account number over the phone, by mail or online.
— Securely store your bank, credit and medical card information. Select PIN numbers that are easy for you to remember and don’t let anyone else see the number when you are entering it. Do not carry any record of your PIN number in your wallet. Shred credit card statements, receipts or any medical records containing sensitive information before disposing of them. Also, ensure your credit cards and debit has been updated to include EMV or “chip” technology.
The bottom line is we all have to be vigilant. The thieves and scammers just keep getting more and more sophisticated.
We hope your holiday season is not marred by the crooks.