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|Fewell advises review of Christmas bills to thwart identity theft|
Now that local residents have received their monthly credit card and bank statements for last month, Sheriff Richard Fewell said they should be reviewed carefully to make sure no identify theft took place during the holiday shopping season.
He says people often overlook suspicious activity. Some may not take the time to look at the statements, he said.
"The holidays are a prime time for identity thieves to go into overdrive when it comes to stealing innocent peoples' identities," Fewell said. "These thieves take advantage of the 'hustle and bustle' of Christmas and shoppers' preoccupation with the holiday season's festivities and fast pace."
"Sometimes it's not so hard for people to overlook questionable transactions on their monthly statements, especially for those who don't want to be reminded of how much they spent during the holidays," the sheriff said.
The National Crime Prevention Council offers these tips to prevent identify theft and to catch any suspicious activity early. Those tips include:
* Review your monthly credit card and bank statements. Look carefully for unfamiliar transactions.
* Retrieve your mail from your mailbox promptly. Thieves "shop" mailboxes for identity information.
Lock up your personal information - tax information, previous tax returns, bank statements, and unpaid bills - even at home.
* Check your credit report - the law entitles everyone to at least one free report a year from each major credit bureau.
* Report suspicious activity right away - alert any one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union) to any possible fraud, close the account you think has been compromised, file a police report in case you need to provide proof of the crime, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at its website (www.consumer.gov/idtheft).
* Destroy or shred documents that you do not need to keep for long periods. Documents such as phone bills, credit card receipts, and mail-order catalogs all hold valuable information tied to your identity.
* Secure financial information you may need for tax time. In preparation for tax time, keep pay stubs, receipts for charitable donations, and other financial statements safely locked away until you are ready to do your taxes.