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National Protect Your Identity Week: October 18 - 22, 2010
10/20/2010
 Attorney General John Kroger today reminds consumers to take steps to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
 
“Identity theft is a big problem in Oregon, and it can wreak financial havoc on people’s lives,” said Attorney General Kroger. “You cannot completely protect yourself from identity theft, but there are important steps that can greatly reduce your risk.”
 
Here are some basic tips to avoid being the victim of identity theft: 
  • Shred financial documents, credit card offers, and other papers containing your personal information.
  • Never give out personal information over the phone, online or through the mail unless you are certain that you know the recipient.
  • Beware of imposters. Scammers often purport to work for companies with whom you have a business relationship and may contact you seeking to “verify” your personal information. Be wary if someone asks you for private information they should already have. 
  • Never click on links that are embedded in unsolicited emails. 
  • Invest in security measures. Install a reliable firewall on your computer and use programs such as anti-spyware and anti-virus software to ensure your computer is safe, especially if you use it to shop online. 
  • Keep sensitive information in a safe, secure place at home. This includes your social security number, passwords, bank account information and other private files. 
  • Check your credit report. Consumer reporting companies are required by law to provide a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to order a free credit report. For tips on correcting errors in your credit report, go to http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
  • Opt out of pre-approved credit offers. Credit bureaus use marketing lists for pre-approved offers of credit; ID thieves can steal the information and apply for credit in your name. The national credit bureaus offer a toll-free number that enables consumers to opt-out of pre-approved credit offers. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) for more information
 
Consumers who believe they may be the victim of identity theft are encouraged to file a police report with their local law enforcement. They can also call the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Hotline: 1-877-877-9392.
 
Another resource is the Department of Business and Consumer Services (DCBS), which has information regarding safeguarding personal information – on its website at www.dfcs.oregon.gov/id_theft.html. DCBS can also provide presentations to businesses and organizations to help them better understand their requirements under Oregon’s identity theft law. Contact the DCBS Division of Finance and Corporate Securities toll-free at (866) 814-9710 or (503) 378-4140. National Protect Your Identity Week is sponsored by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Better Business Bureau. For more information, visit: http://www.protectyouridnow.org.