The good news is that you live in the beautiful state of Georgia, but the bad news is that identity theft is still on the rise in the Peach State. In 2016, Georgia was ranked number three in the nation for identity theft complaints, with Atlanta coming in at number 13 among large metro areas.
Why is the Empire State of the South under such heavy attack by fraudsters? Experts say that there are a few factors in play. First of all, a lot of people want to live in Georgia, and who could blame them? Few states offer such an enticing blend of natural wonders and exciting city life. But, unfortunately, ID thieves want to be here too.
And even though Georgia boasts a lot of attractive qualities, it also has high poverty levels and a fairly high rate of unemployment. This means that many Georgians might feel financially stressed enough to resort to criminal activity, and stealing personal information is easier than robbing a bank.
Knowing that identity theft is a major problem in your state, you’re going to want to take every precaution to protect your bank and credit info, as well as your SSN and tax records. With access to your sensitive information, a thief can take your money, but it may not end there. If you’re the victim of identity theft, there’s a good chance that your credit will end up significantly damaged.
How Georgians Can Protect Themselves against Identity Theft
Sadly, it’s virtually impossible to keep your personal data 100 percent safe all of the time. Using debit and credit cards at stores and online can make you vulnerable to sophisticated hackers. Or, if a fraudster is employed by the Department of Driver Services or your bank, how are you supposed to avoid exposure? But you can keep your identity as safe as possible by practicing the following habits:
- Only share payment information with trusted websites. Your information is much safer if you only shop on well-known, heavily protected sites. It’s always a good idea to check for the little green lock that appears at the top, beside the URL, on secure websites.
- Guard your pin number when paying at a store. If there’s someone behind you in the checkout line, you never know if they’re watching you and memorizing your info. So, always block the keypad and screen with your hand just to be safe.
- Shred all sensitive documents and leave nothing to chance. Shredders for home use are fairly inexpensive, and buying one is a good investment. This is because a lot of ID thieves are also dumpster divers. Since most consumers don’t shred their mail before tossing it out, trash bins can offer crooks a wealth of information. So, if there’s any doubt that a document might be sensitive, go ahead and shred it, and leave the fraudsters nothing but a pile of confetti. If you have lots of shredding, many UPS and other postal stores offer shredding by the pound. It’s a good deal.
- Check your bank statements and monitor your credit reports. Most individuals can instantly pull up their most recent bank and credit card statements online. And it’s a good idea to check your accounts at least once a day. This way, if there’s any suspicious activity, you’ll be able to catch it right away. As for your credit reports, you are entitled to receive a free copy of your report every 12 months from each of the three primary reporting bureaus. Just go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.
HOW to Fix Your Credit after Identity Theft
If you have been the victim of identity theft, there’s a way to get your credit reports cleaned up at no charge to you. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been protecting the rights of consumers since 2008, for free, and we’ll be happy to defend you next.
Setting up your free consultation is easy. Just give Attorney Gary Nitzkin a call at (888)293-2882 or email him at [email protected].