With identify theft on the rise, the state of Nebraska is helping its citizens to better understand ways to protect sensitive information. Attorney General Jon Bruning recently unveiled a new online consumer vulnerability survey through the state’s official Web site at www.Nebraska.gov that helps determine whether Nebraskans are at low, moderate, or high risk for becoming victims of fraud.
“This survey is another tool we will use to help Nebraskans fight against fraud, scams, and identity theft,” said Bruning. “There are many people who may not realize that something as simple as carrying their Social Security Card or ATM PIN in their wallets puts them at higher risk for becoming a fraud victim.”
Consumers who click on the home page icon are asked a series of 10 yes or no questions and are immediately given a ranking of their vulnerability. Respondents are also referred to a series of brochures available on the Web site that offer tips on how to protect against a variety of issues, including identity theft and sweepstakes fraud.
The Attorney General offered consumers the following tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
— Before giving out any personal information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared with others. Many companies allow consumers to decline to have personal information used for marketing purposes or shared with other companies.
— Never give credit card, bank account, or social security numbers over the phone, especially to people you do not know.
— Use a secure browser when shopping on the Internet. Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar to ensure that your personal and financial information is secure.
— Photocopy the front and back of every license, credit card, insurance card, etc., that you carry in your wallet. If your wallet is lost or stolen, you will have all the pertinent contact information at your fingertips.
— Don’t be a victim of high-pressure sales tactics. Instead, ask for information to be sent in the mail. This will give you the time and information you need to prepare a list of questions and make an informed decision. Most legitimate businesses will be happy to oblige.
— Always check your credit card bills for unauthorized charges. Report any discrepancies to the credit card company immediately.
— Beware of sweepstakes, chain letters, foreign letters, and other scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
— Get written estimates and references for any significant product or service purchases. Be sure you understand the company’s product return and customer satisfaction policies.
— Shred all unwanted credit card offers or other documents that may contain personal information before throwing them away. Trash can be treasure for identity thieves.
— Watch your credit. Nebraskans are eligible to receive one free credit report every year as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. Credit Report Forms can be obtained via the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site at www.ftc.gov/credit. Additionally, the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies have set up a central Web site, www.annualcreditreport.com; toll-free telephone number, 877-322-8228; and mailing address, Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
The online consumer vulnerability survey was developed without appropriated tax funds through a public-private partnership between the state and Nebraska Interactive LLC, the Lincoln-based official eGovernment partner for the state of Nebraska.
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