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ON YOUR SIDE: Identity theft up 185% in Missouri, according to a new study

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 8:51 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A new study found that identity theft in Missouri has increased 185% since the beginning of the pandemic, reporting that it’s the 11th highest increase across the country.

Director at Consumer Credit Counseling Service Holly Wilson says more people in Springfield have reached out for credit report reviews.

The credit report review allows people to clean up their credit and spot if there may be someone else using their credit.

”Not only if you see new credit cards show up but if you see additional addresses that you’ve not noticed before,” Wilson says. “If you see anything that looks out of the ordinary. It might seem minor at the time, but if you get ahead of it, it can really help.”

Wilson says looking at your credit report is crucial to seeing any potential mistakes or fraud.

“Annualcreditreport.com is a tool that pulls all three of the credit bureaus,” Wilson says. “Before the pandemic, you could do it once a year. Through this year, through 2022, you can pull it weekly.”

Wilson says the website is free to use and will not impact your credit score. He says if you do fall victim to identity theft.

“Reach out to those vendors like your insurance and your car loan and all those places to let them know what has happened, and they can document their record,” Wilson says. “You can also put a freeze on your accounts so that nobody can go in and pull that information.”

Director of Information Systems for the city of Springfield, Neil Slagle, says people are often re-using passwords for multiple accounts or using passwords that are easy to guess.

“People will use their dog’s names, or they’ll use their kids’ names or a combination of that, and thieves are thinking about that, and so when they think about that, then they start putting two and two together,” Slagle says. “They can make some rough guesses about what it is they could be doing.”

Another tip is not saving passwords in a browser or on your phone.

Slagle says instead, use two-factor authentication, especially when logging in for your bank account.

Slagle says never to use public Wi-Fi.

“They have the ability to see that data that you’re typing in, and they can capture that data, and then when you’re done with your transaction, they can capture your password, and then they can use that for their own needs later on,” Slagle says.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service offers free credit report reviews for the rest of June. You can schedule an appointment by calling (417) 889-7474.

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