CARSON CITY — A lost wallet, a false credit card purchase or a fraudulent bank transaction. The list of examples of identity theft is long and serious, and the consequences of it can be devastating if the right steps aren’t taken to be protected.
That’s why Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, chose to host a town hall meeting Wednesday evening at Carson City Public Library to inform residents of the dangers of identity theft.
“Senior citizens are some of our state’s most vulnerable residents, and I think it is important to update them on issues that affect them,” Outman said. “The Carson City identity theft seminar, with a presentation by the Michigan attorney general’s office, is in direct response to constituents whose credit card information was stolen by hackers at a local grocery store. We want to make sure citizens know what to look for and how to react if they believe someone has stolen their personal identification.”
In February, the Carson Village Market grocery store was a victim of a credit card hack, in which many customers’ credit card information was stolen and used throughout the country.
Residents such as Gary Copp of Crystal, who owns Carson City Lumber across the street from Carson Village Market, attended Wednesday evening’s meeting to become better informed on how to deal with identity theft after his credit card information was stolen after shopping at the grocery store.
“I intended to pick up information today, and I thought tonight’s meeting was very worthwhile,” he said. “Everybody is exposed to these things today. It’s becoming incredibly important to be aware of how to protect yourself.”
Copp said there were three fraudulent charges each of $108.50 were charged to his account.
“It shocked a lot of people,” he said. “I had to get my credit card changed.”
Chris Coady, a presenter with Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Consumer Programs, delivered a 45-minute presentation to about 20 people at the library, discussing a variety of topics related to identity theft.
“Identity theft is the unauthorized use of a victims personal information for a fraudulent purpose,” she said. “It’s a growing problem, nearly 10 million Americans have their identity stolen every year.”
Coady said identity theft can range from stolen social security numbers, credit card numbers, any bank or financial information, dates of birth, and even a mother’s maiden name.
“There are a variety of ways that identity thieves will work to steal your identity,” she said.
Coady provided residents with a list of ways to protect oneself from identity theft, including reading credit card and bank statements often, knowing payment due dates, reading health insurance statements often, shredding any documents with personal financial information, and reviewing each of three credit reports at least once a year.
According to Coady, there are three steps to take if one’s identity is stolen.
The first, to place a fraud alert on one’s credit report. Businesses must then confirm one’s identity before they can extent further credit purchases.
“A fraud alert is a road block in the path of an identity thief, and it’s just a phone call away,” she said.
The second, complete a complaint form at www.ftc.goc/complaint. Coady said this creates an identity theft affidavit, which aides in filing a police report.
And the third step, is actually filing the police report.
“Taking these steps will give you some important tools to deal with other problems that may come up,” she said.
For more information about identity theft, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft online.