SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – A new study has found that identity theft in Missouri has increased 185% since the start of the pandemic, indicating that it is the 11th highest increase across the country.
Holly Wilson, director of the consumer credit counseling service, says more people in Springfield have requested credit file reviews.
Reviewing credit report allows people to clean up their credit and see if there is someone else using their credit.
“Not only if you see new credit cards popping up, but if you see additional addresses that you haven’t noticed before,” Wilson says. “If you see anything out of the ordinary. It may seem minor at the time, but if you get ahead it can really help.
Wilson says it’s essential to check your credit report to see any errors or potential fraud.
“Annualcreditreport.com is a tool that pulls all three credit bureaus,” Wilson says. “Before the pandemic, you could do it once a year. Throughout this year, until 2022, you can withdraw it every week.
Wilson says using the website is free and won’t affect your credit score. It says if you are a victim of identity theft.
“Contact these providers like your insurance and your car loan and all these places to let them know what happened, and they can document their case,” Wilson says. “You can also freeze your accounts so that no one can enter and extract this information.”
City of Springfield CIO Neil Slagle says people often reuse passwords for multiple accounts or use easy-to-guess passwords.
“People will use their dogs’ names, or they’ll use their children’s names or some combination of that, and thieves think about it, and so when they think about it, they start putting two and two together,” Slagle says. . “They can make rough guesses about what they might do.”
Another tip is to not save passwords in a browser or on your phone.
Slagle instead says to use two-factor authentication, especially when logging into your bank account.
Slagle says never use public Wi-Fi.
“They have the ability to see the data you enter, and they can capture that data, and then when you complete your transaction, they can capture your password, and then they can use it for their own purposes later,” Slagle said.
The consumer credit counseling service is offering free credit report reviews for the rest of June. You can make an appointment by calling (417) 889-7474.
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