SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Identity Theft Awareness Week takes place Jan. 29 through Feb. 2, and FBI Springfield is putting a spotlight on protecting personally identifiable information, or PII.
Compromised credentials can be sold when a business or organization is breeched online, which can lead to perpetrators taking out loans in your name, opening financial accounts and lines of credit or filing fraudulent health care claims.
PII theft can also happen through:
Leaving your information exposed in public places
Officials say that even something as simple as your phone number can lead to enough information to steal your identity.
“Be resolute in protecting your personal information,” said David Nanz, FBI Springfield Special Agent in Charge. “Taking the extra step to keep your personal information private can be the difference between being empowered or being endangered.”
Illinois PII theft victims lost $4.8 million in 2022, according to an annual report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Here are some ways that FBI Springfield officials say you can protect yourself against identity theft:
Do not give out personal information unless you initiated the contact and are certain you are dealing with a trusted organization or individual.
Make sure to contact the business or person by using the main contact information on their official website.
Do not open, respond to, or click on links in unsolicited emails or texts.
Use different, strong passwords to secure valuable accounts, such as banking or credit accounts. Change passwords and check on these accounts routinely.
Keep private information private; limit the personal information you share on social media.
Regularly check credit reports from the three credit bureaus to ensure you recognize all accounts.
If you lose track of your information or it gets exposed, try these tips to lessen the damage:
Check your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. Free reports are available from each of the three credit reporting companies once a year.
Place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit report.
If a company offers free credit monitoring after they expose your information, use it.
Monitor all bank, credit card, and insurance statements. If you suspect something is wrong, contact your bank or insurance provider, report the crime to law enforcement and file a complaint with www.IC3.gov.