Keep close watch on personal information

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 11:45pm
Staff reports

Last week, Metro police rounded up eight people they said were part of fraud ring that charged more than $100,000 using stolen credit card information recovered from Dumpsters at hotels near Nashville International Airport.

While it can be scary to think what a criminal can do with your personal information, the state office of Consumer Affairs says there are steps individuals can take to protect themselves.

Their tips include not divulging information like account numbers by phone, Internet or mail; storing personal information in a safe place, and shredding old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, account statements and unused credit card offers.

Another tip: Pay attention to billing cycles. Inquire with your bank if you do not receive a monthly bill.

Many of their suggetions sound like a broken record, but apparently people are still falling victim to these persistent fraudsters.

Each year, as many as 9 million Americans become victims of identity theft, the unauthorized acquisition and use of a person’s identifying information — such as a name, Social Security number or credit card number — to commit fraud or other crimes.

Identity thieves use data to rent apartments, obtain credit or establish telephone accounts.

Victims often don’t discover the crimes until they attempt to make a large purchase or receive calls from bill collectors. Consumer Affairs suggests reviewing credit reports annually from each of the three major credit bureaus.