WAHOO – With identity theft on the rise, local law enforcement officers have offered some advice on how you can protect yourself.
According to Wahoo Police Chief Ken Jackson, the rise of technology doesn’t help the matter.
“I think people are pretty cautious anymore about the physical things that they do, but the electronic access is just very difficult,” he said.“You go swipe your card at the gas pump and get your gas and it’s read all your information.”
Jackson recalled the fact that, not too long ago, an individual hacked into the University of Nebraska’s centralized computer system and stole several identifications.
“There’s so much that you don’t have any control over anymore,” he added.“Your information is in somebody else’s hands and you don’t have any control over that.”
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to monitor electronic transactions.
“When you get your credit card bill, you go through that thing,” he said.“You don’t just write a check and pay it if it looks like it’s about right. I keep all my receipts from when I buy something with a credit card whether it’s online or whatever and then I sit down when the bill comes and it’s just like balancing a checkbook.”
Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz agreed.
“I would look over every bill that I get very carefully because it’s pretty easy for someone to add a small minor charge onto an account,” he said.“If they do it kind of inconsistently, it’s possible that you would never notice it.”
Monitoring any bank accounts on a regular basis is also advised.
“Any charge on your bank account that you don’t know, ask about,” said Stukenholtz.“The sooner you ask the better.”
Another good practice is to use only one credit card for internet purchases and a separate one for other charges.
“If you are compromised, it’s easier to track that,” explained Stukenholtz.
According to Jackson, most identity theft issues stem from one of two issues.
“They’ve either gotten your credit card information and they’re putting stuff on that account or the other one is they have gained access to your personal data and they have gone and opened accounts claiming to be you. Those are really difficult to deal with,” he said.
Never give information out over the telephone, he added.
Several telephone scams are in circulation to get personal data from individuals.
Some, he said, even seem to know a great deal about you.
“People don’t realize how much information they can get about you,” he said.“If someone Google’s you, they can find out probably where you went to high school and what your interests are. They can get some pretty good information.”
Sometimes, people will let their guard down because it sounds good.
“The thing that you have to tell yourself is,‘They’re very good at what they do,’” said Stukenholtz.“They’ve done it hundreds of thousands of times and they’re good at what they do.”
He added that, if you experience identity theft, you should warn friends and family.
so that they can avoid it better.