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October 25, 2012 09:50 PM

Protect Your Identity Week

Sioux Falls, SD

If you haven't been a victim of identity theft, chances are good it will happen to you at some point.
Nine million Americans are victims every year.  

But there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening to you during Protect Your Identity week in Sioux Falls. 

Whether it's from dumpster diving, phishing, skimming or an old-fashioned phone call designed to get your personal information, identity thieves are out to steal from you.  But there are definite steps you can take to keep your identity secure.   

Most folks know better than to give out their personal information over the phone and you probably know to use secure websites when putting in a credit card number.  But as part of Protect Your Identity week, Consumer Credit Counseling wants you to do even more.

"It's often considered a silent crime; we don't catch it until months or years later," Marley Prunty-Lara of Consumer Credit Counseling said.

The first thing you can do is check your credit report for signs that your credit is being misused. 

"You shouldn't pay for your credit report.  It's free. The government has enacted laws for you; even though it's very catchy and we see those jingles on TV, that's something you shouldn't pay for," Prunty-Lara said.

You can get your free copy at annual credit

"Take an hour every four months and make sure that information is accurate," Prunty-Lara said.

If you're not going to be opening new lines of credit or taking out a loan anytime soon, you may want to consider freezing your credit.  In South Dakota, it costs $10 per credit bureau to place a freeze, but it lasts for seven years and no one can open up credit accounts in your name.

Finally, don't take chances with documents that contain account and personal information by throwing them in the trash.  Use a shredder or take it someplace to be shredded for you. 

"It's not just bank statements, credit card statements.  But there's a lot with medical ID theft.  Just looking at anything that has an account number that can be liked to you," Prunty-Lara said.

You can bring up to five boxes to Consumer Credit Counseling's shred event on Saturday.  It runs from 10 a.m. - noon at Active Generations. 

Find more information on protecting your identity online.

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