JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tens of thousands of Floridians fell victim to identity theft last year.
Identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases or get tax refunds.
Many Floridians whose information was compromised did not realize their identity was stolen until years later when they tried to buy a car or home.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody warns that identity thieves use the holiday season as the perfect time to steal information.
She shared five recommendations for how to protect your identity:
- Once a year, order and closely review a free credit report from each national credit reporting agency: Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
- Browse and purchase online while only using a secure connection. Never use autofill features when filling out online forms, unless it is on a trusted site.
- Refrain from giving solicitors personal or financial information over the phone, by email or through pop-up message.
- Opt out of pre-screened offers of credit and insurance by mail.
- Avoid oversharing on social networking sites so you’re not sharing a potential scam with others.
If you do think you’re a victim, call the three major credit bureaus and place a credit freeze and file a report with law enforcement.
Even if you don’t believe it’s that big of a deal, reporting these crimes can help law enforcement prevent others.