Over the course of the last year, there has been an overwhelming increase in unemployment fraud throughout the United States. Losses are being reported in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. Some states have tied some of the activity to a well-organized Nigerian fraud ring with a substantial database of personal identifying information and hundreds or thousands of involved suspects.
A nationwide trend has been recognized in which the fraudulent benefit claims have been submitted using the Personal Identifying Information of first responders, government personnel and school employees.
General tips for avoiding identity theft:
- Identity theft protection services can be a tremendous benefit. Most major bank or credit card companies offer credit monitoring services, but you should consider spending a little to go a step further than basic monitoring.
- Keep your financial documents and records in a safe place, a locked safe or safe deposit box is a good idea.
- Limit what you carry with you. Leave your SSN card locked at home. Don’t leave any important documents in your vehicle, ever.
- Read your credit card and bank statements, know your payment due dates, shred any documents with personal or financial information.
- Use strong passwords for email, online banking, social networking, etc. Keep your computer anti-virus protection up to date and ensure multiple software programs aren’t conflicting with each other.
- Never give any personal identifying information over the phone or email, particularly if you didn’t initiate the contact.
- Consider opting out of prescreened credit card offers. This can be done at www.optoutprescreen.com.