Police advise Bullskin residents to take extra precautions against identity theft
State Trooper Stefani Plume told those attending this week's meeting of the Bullskin Township Community Crime Watch to take extra precautions when working on the Internet and on phone or mail transactions.
Identity theft is a problem.
Personal information should never be given over the telephone, Plume stressed.
“As a general rule, if someone calls and says that they need information, don't give it to them,” Plume said. “There is so much information and so many ways that you can get scammed.”
Many people are now concerned about their credit scores and their credit, she noted. Keeping an eye out for unknown companies or emails received from unknown senders is the first step in staying protected.
“If you get an email or an offer from someone that is suspect, don't do anything or agree to anything,” Plume said. “If something sounds too good to be true, it's too good to be true.”
You don't have to pay bills online or enter personal information on the computer to have your identity stolen, the trooper said. Just issuing a personal check can give someone enough information to steal your identity.
“Think about it,” Plume said. “A check has your name, your address and sometimes your birthday. It has your routing number and your bank account. That is all the information — other than your Social Security number — that is needed for a thief to take and buy something.”
Most times people monitor their accounts closely enough to know if they have been compromised, but it may be too late, she warned.
“By the time you realize that you have been scammed, they may have already spent a lot of your money,” she said.
Plume said no one should be leery of using a check or credit card when paying bills to legitimate companies, but be suspicious of someone you with whom you are familiar.
“Research companies and look into them before you send anything to make sure that they are legitimate,” Plume said.
Be extra safe, she said. Bills can always be paid with money orders or bank certified checks.
“Remember, their goal is purposely to try to trick you,” Plume said.
If anyone is suspicious and believes they may have been a victim of a fraud or attempted fraud, call the state police or the Attorney General's Office.
Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.