December Is Identity Theft Awareness Month
COLUMBIA, S.C. — 64 consumers reported that when they went to file their tax returns this year, someone had already done it for them. This is probably the most common form of tax fraud and is the top way that SC consumers reported their identities being stolen so far in 2021.
December is Identity Theft Awareness Month, and the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) urges consumers to stay on guard. Since January 1, 2021, 397 consumers reported ID theft totaling $730,248.21 lost. So far, the top reporters of ID theft are ages 35-44. Richland County has the most ID theft reports at 59; Horry County comes in second place at 31 ID theft reports.
As consumers are spending more money for the holidays than any other time of year, SCDCA has three easy ways to keep your information and money safe:
Don’t use debit cards online. A thief using your debit card number can drain your bank account before you even notice it. With a hijacked credit card number, while your available credit may be affected, your pocketbook is unchanged because of the added protections credit cards offer.
Closely monitor your credit report and financial statements/accounts. Check all monthly statements and account activity. Review your statements and credit report for unauthorized purchases/accounts and suspicious items. You can obtain your FREE credit reports by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228. Because of the pandemic, you can pull your credit reports once a week until April 2022.
Consider a fraud alert and security freeze. A fraud alert tells a business accessing your report to take extra steps to verify that you are the one seeking its goods/services. When a security freeze is in place, no one can access your report without your OK. Both are FREE, just contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place an alert and contact each to place a freeze: Equifax (800) 685-1111, Experian (888) 397-3742 and TransUnion (888) 909-8872.
SCDCA is holding three free webinars in December on ID Theft:
Free ID Theft Protection Tools, December 1 at 10:30 a.m.
ID Theft Victim? We Can Help!, December 8 at 10:30 a.m.
How Businesses Have to Protect Your Personal Information, December 14 at 10:30 a.m.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 1 (800) 922-1594.
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