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Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. How does identity theft really happen? Who is really at risk - and what can we do to protect ourselves? Unfortunately, with ID theft, victims must continually prove they are innocent,-- and that someone else is racking up debt and opening fraudulent accounts. We are all potential victims of this crime.

Suzanne Klenk from Washington State Employees Credit Union joined New Day to tell us how to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Washington State Employees Credit Union provides free workshops about ID theft prevention and recovery. If you have a community group, employees group or other organization and would like to host a workshop, get in contact with WSECU and see what can be done! Email Suzanne: sklenk@wsecu.org

Here are Suzanne's tips to help protect your identity from ID thieves:

Identity Theft is a Cradle to Grave crime and that protecting your personal information is more important now than ever...Can you explain?

  1. If you have a social security number you are at risk. Babies are now given Social Security Numbers before they leave the hospital and there are several cases where social security numbers of the deceased have been used, hence the "Cradle to Grave."  
  2. Protecting your personal information is so important right now because there are so many avenues for your information to be compromised.

How do they get my information?

  • Actually, the most common and easiest way is.....they just ask.
    • Go into scams by phone, e-mail
    • Dumpster Diving
    • Data Breaches

What can an ID Thief do with your personal information?

  • Get fake identification with your name and their picture
  • Get a job or file a fraudulent tax return
  • Apply for Medical Benefits
  • Use your name if arrested
  • Use your name for phone or utility accounts
  • Open new accounts/ take over existing accts/ take out loans

You say there are simple steps to protect yourself and your children from this crime. Let's talks about a few of them:

  1. Don't give out your child's SSN to family members
  2. Clarify the need when asked for your SSN
  3. Invest in a shredder
  4. Get a P.O. Box
  5. Limit information on your personal checks
  6. Check your credit report once a year through Annualcreditreport.com
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