Utahns vulnerable to summer ID theft – Standard

OGDEN — Over 50 percent of Utahns make themselves vulnerable to identity theft through a series of bad habits, according to a recent study.

And over the summer months the potential for identity theft only increases as consumers leave their house and mail unattended, log onto their personal banking accounts remotely, or lose their wallets while traveling, according to officials.

“Summer vacation is a key time for identity theft because of travel,” said Ann Noder, CEO and president of Pitch Public Relations, which handles public relations work for Experian’s ProtectMyID.com based out of Costa Mesa, Calif.

A new online survey conducted in March for ProtectMyID.com reveals Utahns are potentially at risk from the continuing threat of identity theft, with 52 percent of those surveyed either having been a victim of identity theft or knowing someone who has been affected by the crime, according to Noder.

Putting Utahns further at risk when it comes to the potential for identity theft is their natural trusting nature.

“We tend to want to trust people,” Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson said, not surprised at the survey results.

As Davis County continues to evolve from a bedroom community to a rather affluent urban community, Richardson said, more attempted scams on the unsuspecting public are carried out.

Richardson said he was recently notified by text that he was a winner of a cash prize and all he had to do was provide some personal information in a text reply to receive the prize. “I told them to pound sand,” he said, but not before sharing with the individual who had sent the text to him that he had just texted the sheriff of Davis County. The sheriff never heard from the individual again.

Outside of the general naivete of Utahns, some of whom still go to bed with their garage doors open, Richardson said, some of the identity theft that occurs is brought about as a result of youth sharing personal information over social media.

“One of the reasons our statistics are higher is because we have bigger families. We get victimized more often because young children get their Social Security number stolen, and they don’t figure it out until adulthood. Parents need to check on their kids’ credit reports,” Richardson said.

Another hard and fast rule to avoid being a victim of identity theft, he said, is when on social media or the phone, never give out any personal information to anyone.

“Any legitimate service does not ask for personal information over the phone,“ Richardson said.

The problem with some Utahns is that they don’t know how to hang up on suspected callers, Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson said.

”Some people just can’t hang up,“ Thompson said. ”We do need to be a little bit cautious of people we don’t know – particularly when they are on the other end of a phone.“

Seniors are even more vulnerable to callers perpetrating a scam. The scammers attempt to keep the senior on the phone in working different angles of their story. ”They get worn down (by the caller),“ Thompson said.

Too much extended family information is also shared over social media, Thompson said, something would-be criminals are using more of in legitimizing their scam as the public allows more strangers into their social circles.

Utahns have been raised to treat people with love, compassion and respect, Thompson said. But these kinds of attributes, as quality as they are, can be a detriment when it comes to someone trying to steal another’s identity.

The statewide survey of 1,055 consumers reveals Utah residents take some steps to keep their personal information safe, but further efforts could be made, particularly surrounding technology and online activities, Noder said.

The survey results indicate only 50 percent of those surveyed use passwords, while 17 percent admit that they allow strangers to join their social media circles, she said.

“Many people don’t think about identity theft until it happens, and this survey shows that Utahns could take more steps to protect their identities,” said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for Experian’s ProtectMyID.

“Simple things, such as checking your credit report for signs of fraud or changing passwords regularly, can go a long way in the fight against identity theft.” he said.

The survey also revealed some things the majority of Utahns do to protect their identity:

– 83 percent avoid sharing their Social Security numbers unless required.

– 77 percent check their account statements as soon as they arrive.

– 76 percent keep antivirus and antimalware programs up to date on all of their computers.

Where Utahns show some bad habits:

– 50 percent do not use different passwords for each of their online accounts.

– 48 percent do not shred canceled checks.

– 58 percent do not review their credit reports.

 Richardson said Utah residents must realize those perpetrating identity theft crimes will continue to do so as long as there are ample numbers of victims available to them in a select area.

Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or bsaxton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton. 

STORY:201406120055Utahns vulnerable to summer ID theft/Police-Fire/2014/06/13/Utah-Travelers.html-1

Article source: http://www.standard.net/Police-Fire/2014/06/13/Utah-Travelers.html

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