Woodward, Okla. —
The state's Attorney General (AG), Scott Pruitt, has issued a warning for Oklahomans to beware of criminals targeting seniors for identity theft.
He said the crime is on the increase with older residents, and it's important that they know how to protect themselves.
"Older residents may be more susceptible to identity theft because of the amount of personal data they give out for health care or in-home assistance," Pruitt said. "Many can be vulnerable and not be aware."
While the warning comes just at the beginning of the holiday season, AG spokeswoman Karee Pyatt said the issue isn't something that just occurs around the holidays.
"It's a year-round problem," Pyatt said.
TYPES OF ID THEFT
Pruitt said there are a variety of ways for thieves to steal your identity, including:
- Dumpster Diving - Thieves rummaging through the trash looking for bills or other documents with personal information included.
- Skimming - Stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when cards are processed.
- Phishing - Pretending to be a financial institution or another company over the Internet, and sending spam or pop-up messages to try and get people to reveal personal information.
- Pretexting - Getting someone's personal information from financial institutions, phone companies or other sources.
- Old-fashioned stealing -Taking wallets, purses and mail, which include bank and credit card statements, stealing pre-approved credit card offers that come in the mail, and new checks or tax information.
Get more information about identity theft and how to protect yourself by going to the Attorney General's website at www.oag.state.ok.us or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website at www.ftc.gov.
PREVENTING ID THEFT
The Oklahoma Attorney General's Public Protection Unit (PPU) has several tips to avoid identity theft, and what to do if one is a victim.
First, Pruitt said if you suspect you've become a victim of identity theft, contact the PPU at (405) 521-2029 or by email at PublicProtection@oag.ok.gov, and also notify local law enforcement.
To protect yourself against identity theft, the PPU recommends that you:
- Regularly check bank statements to make sure each transaction is correct.
- Keep your mail safe. Send bill payments from the post office, not from home.
- Keep passwords secret.
- Carefully review the security information included on websites before listing personal information.
- Check credit reports.
- Consider requesting a "credit freeze" to restrict access to your credit reports. It's free to Oklahoma seniors at least age 65. Learn more by going to the FTC webpage at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/credit-freeze.html.