Don’t let identity thieves trick you


Halloween is a time when many people like a good scare. Whether it’s a frightening costume party or a horrifying haunted house, kids and grown-ups alike line up for a good fright. What makes it enjoyable is that it’s all in good fun. People know that there is no real danger as long as precautions are taken.

During the days before Halloween, it also happens to be National Protect Your Identity Week — from Oct. 20 to 27.

Identity theft is a real threat. Identity thieves victimize millions of people each year. Don’t be tricked by identity thieves; take the proper precautions.

Be sure to safeguard your personal information, such as your Social Security number and mother’s maiden name. Identity thieves hunger for such information like trick-or-treaters hunger for candy.

You can help protect yourself by not carrying your Social Security card with you and not providing your personal information to unknown sources over the Internet or by email. Be sure to shred any documents, bills, or paperwork before you throw it away. Most important, never reply to an email claiming to be from Social Security that asks you for your Social Security number or other personal information.

If you think you’ve been the victim of an identity thief, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission at 877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261. Or you go to www.idtheft.gov and click on the link for “Report Identity Theft.”

Learn more about identity theft at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10064.html.

If you want to get involved with Protect Your Identity Week, visit www.protectyouridnow.org.

Don’t fall victim to an identity thief. Safeguard your identity and take precautions to keep the “bad guys” at bay — during Protect Your Identity Week, Halloween, and throughout the year.

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Phylis Dills is a Social Security public affairs specialist at Little Rock.