Special Report: Too social for security

Social security number and tax return fraud on the rise in Columbus

CONSUMER ALERT

From credit card applications to gym memberships more and more companies are asking you to share one of your most valuable possessions: your social security number.

Jane Edenfield with CPD’s financial crime’s unit says, “Oh it’s harder to prove as the victim….to prove that you are you..than it is for the suspect to fake that they are you.”

Over the years, the ways by which thieves stole social security numbers have changed.

The scams first went through the mail, then over the phone and now they’re rampant on the Internet.

“We see a ton of it in Columbus,” says Edenfield.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact you have to do everything you can to protect those nine little numbers.

She says locally the number of social security Internet scams are exploding and especially when it come to filing fraudulent tax returns.

“In the 2 years I’ve been here I’ve seen it increase,” says Edenfield.

But by just following 4 easy DON’TS – you could be saved from a messy situation.

  1. Never give the number out over the phone.
  2. Don’t give it out on the internet
  3. When someone asks for your number in person be “defensive.”
  4. Don’t leave it with you, but keep it locked up!

“You have no idea how many times cars get broken into, purses get stolen…wallets get stolen and that social security number is in there,” says Edenfield.

So what do you do if the scammers find away around your security precautions?

That happened to Jeffery King despite the fact he says he’s careful with his number. This retired vet. and former News 3 employee says his social security number and other sensitive info. has been compromised not once, but three times.

The latest time just this year, when he became of one of 14 million current and former federal government employees who fell victim to Chinese hackers.

King’s mind is eased a little knowing the government is footing the bill for 1-full year of credit monitoring.

However, Edenfield suggests everyone should use credit monitoring as a preventative measure.

She also says to check your credit statement daily and to get a credit report every 3 to 4 months.CONSUMER ALERT

Another way to prevent a personal breech is to re-examine where you bank and stop giving your number to medical offices and hospitals – unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Edenfield also says in most cases your social security number isn’t even required for medical treatment, but she does say banks aren’t so easily satisfied with a blank space!

She says the smaller the bank the better the security against fraudsters.

“If you walk in the door and they know your name that’s probably a good thin” says Edenfield.

She also says credit unions tend to have great security against hackers.

So if you do become a victim our financial crimes expert says to stop the bleeding and freeze your credit.

“Lock it down and see how bad it is,” says Edenfield.

Then she says is to run a full credit report and waste no time getting your local police department involved.

But this cop says she’d rather work in prevention mode so she has an open door policy with anyone wanting to better secure their personal information.

“Call us anytime. because trust me..we’d much rather stop it ahead of time..than deal with the ramifications after the fact,” says Edenfield.

IMPORTANT LINKS & PHONE NUMBER:

  1. Investigative Services Financial Crimes: 706-225-4380
  2. CPD’S Financial Crimes Facebook page is always full of local fraudsters and frauds and lots of consumer tips to keep you educated
  3. Find yourself a fraud victim? The Federal Trade Commission will walk you through the recovery process step by step.
  4. The official “Social Security” website also offers tips for cleaning up fraud destruction.
  5. It’s important to check for suspicious activity by getting your free credit report once a year from each
    of the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Stagger the
    Requests and you can check the report free every four months on the website AnnualCreditReport.com.

 

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