6 On Your Side Answers: How to prevent identity fraud

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – News over the last few months about security breaches in retail stores and corporate databases have raised concerns about protecting your personal information like credit cards and banking accounts.

Sue from Lenoir City asks: “What should I do to avoid becoming a victim of ID fraud?”

The approximate number of people in the United States who have been victims of identity fraud is 15 million, and the loss of money to identity thieves, according to the Federal Trade Commission is $50 billion.

No one expects to become a victim of identity fraud, but it can happen to anyone. Identity thieves can strike without having to leave their home.

What you need to do is be stingy about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them, according to Jerry Tipton with the Better Business Bureau.

He says your credit card company may need to know your mother’s maiden name for identification purposes, but if someone else asks that question, it’s a red flag.

“Your financial institution is not going to ask her name. they have it on file already,” said Tipton.

Another tip to protect your identity is to check your financial information regularly.

“People have a tendency sometimes to just glance at it, say it looks okay and discard it. You need to check and see if every transaction is something you do yourself,” he said.

This may be difficult, but maintaining careful records of your banking and financial accounts is important to protect your ID.

“Any transaction at all, you need to know what is going on. It’s your financial information. It is your money. Know where it is, keep it in a safe place because the IRS may need it.”

Finally, you are entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus.

Your report will list all financial accounts under your name and will indicate whether someone has wrongfully opened or used any accounts in your name.

You can see Don Dare’s 6 On Your Side Answers every Tuesday and Thursday on 6 News at 4:00.

If you have a question you can send Don an email at ddare@wate.com or call his 6 On Your Side hotline at (865) 633-5974.

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