Protecting yourself from identity theft

Local News

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — After news of a privacy breach from FEMA this week, News 13 decided to take a look at identity theft and ways to protect yourself.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, almost 38,000 Floridians reported possible identity theft in 2018.

Corporal Dennis Rozier of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office says people who may have bad intentions have ways to make it you think everything is normal.

“These scammers, they can use spoofing programs so they can put whatever phone number they want displaying on your caller ID,” Rozier said.

He says social media and online games/quizzes could also be dangerous.

“There’s even things as simple as these Facebook surveys that you take. So when you click on these things and take these silly surveys, that information, now that company has access to your profile because you allowed them to when you clicked that survey,” Rozier said.

A few ways he says you can protect yourself is to keep a close eye on your credit, change passwords often, never give information over the phone, keep computer desktops clean and more importantly, use your common sense.

“A lot of people when they file the report, they come to me and say ‘ya know that just didn’t sound right’ or ‘I questioned when he said I won 54 million dollars in the British lottery and I didn’t enter the British lottery’ but they gave them information anyway. Use your common sense but your brain is going to tell you, shut up, this isn’t real. Listen to it,” Rozier said.

He says, if you want to take it a step further in protecting your credit, you can get help from the Credit Bureau.

“You can lock your credit. You can contact the credit bureau and you can have them actually put a numerical code on your credit and it will freeze everything so if anyone tries to open a new credit card in your name or take out a loan or anything of that nature, they have to have that pin number issued to you by the Credit Bureau,” Rozier said.

If you think you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud, Rozier says report it to them as soon as you can. The longer one waits, the harder it is to help.

The number to the Sheriff’s Office is (850)747-4700.

Find more resources here.

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