As we all know, identity theft is a growing problem across the United States, and unfortunately, Maryland is no exception. In fact, Maryland has consistently ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of identity theft in recent years, according to the Federal Trade Commission. With that in mind, we want to take some time to discuss the issue of identity theft in Maryland and provide some tips on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
First, it’s important to understand what identity theft is and how it happens. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as your name, social security number, or credit card information, and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes. This can happen in a variety of ways, such as through data breaches, phishing scams, or simply by stealing your mail or wallet.
One of the most common forms of identity theft is credit card fraud, which involves someone using your credit card information to make unauthorized purchases. In Maryland, credit card fraud accounts for over 40% of all reported cases of identity theft, according to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. Other types of identity theft in Maryland include tax-related identity theft, medical identity theft, and government identity theft.
So, what can you do to protect yourself from identity theft in Maryland? Here are some tips:
1. Monitor your accounts regularly: One of the best ways to catch identity theft early is to monitor your accounts regularly. Check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions, and review your credit reports at least once a year.
2. Be cautious with your personal information: Be careful about giving out your personal information, especially online. Only provide it to trusted sources, and make sure you’re on a secure website before entering sensitive information.
3. Use strong passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts, and consider using a password manager to keep track of them all.
4. Watch out for phishing scams: Be wary of emails or phone calls asking for personal information, even if they appear to be from a legitimate source. Scammers often use these tactics to steal your information.
5. Secure your devices: Make sure your computer, phone, and other devices are protected with strong passwords or passcodes, and keep them up to date with the latest security updates.
6. DESTROY your confidential information: The combination of any of these may lead to identity theft Last Name, Address, SSN, Phone Number, Account Number, and any other piece of PII or Personally Identifiable Information.
If you do become a victim of identity theft, it’s important to act quickly to minimize the damage. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately to report any fraudulent charges, and consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your accounts. You should also report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and local law enforcement.
In Maryland, there are resources available to help victims of identity theft. The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has a Consumer Protection Division that can provide assistance and guidance to victims, and the Maryland Identity Theft Passport Program can help victims restore their identities.
We hope these tips and resources are helpful in protecting yourself from identity theft in Maryland. Remember to stay vigilant and cautious with your personal information, and don’t hesitate to take action if you suspect that your identity has been stolen.
Your Team of Certified Information Destroyers! working for your identity theft protection every day.