February 7, 2016

Reminder about online identity theft

A reminder to protect your identity from thieves and scammers.

No one is immune. If you use the Internet, you have a digital footprint. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) reminds everyone to be aware of their digital safety. Sandy Chalmers is Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection. “Identity theft happens every day. People unintentionally make it easy for for cyber thieves to steal their online data.”

Data Privacy Day is an annual international day of awareness that aims to empower people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint. This educational effort is significant for everyone from individuals to businesses to government agencies in order to identify data privacy risks and to counteract the threats. “Probably the most important thing that people can do … is to use a long, strong, and complex password. That’s the first line of defense against cyber thieves.”

The strong password is especially important for email accounts, because password retrieval for other accounts go to that email inbox. Whether you are shopping, conducting financial transactions, searching for information, listening to music or social networking, you are leaving traces of your activities online.

Chalmers says it’s important to minimize the risk of having your personal data lost, stolen or misused. “It costs the average ID theft victim 12 hours and more than $300 to resolve fraud.” That’s an average.

Chalmers says in the worst case scenario, your personal information is sold on the black market. Quite often an identity victim is repeatedly victimized until eventually having to get a new Social Security number.

In order to help Wisconsin consumers learn about ways to tighten the security around their digital activities, DATCP is marking Data Privacy Day on Monday, January 28th. Online safety tips include: using strong passwords, protecting digital devices with updated operating systems and anti-virus software, looking for secure websites (https), getting an annual credit report, checking bank statements regularly, adjusting privacy settings on social media sites, and being wary of suspicious email.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:57

DATCP online safety tips:

· Strong passwords.
· Protect your devices with updated operating systems and anti-virus software to stave off viruses and hackers.
· Look for secure websites that start with “https” (the “s” means secure).
· Annual credit reports.
· Check your statements regularly.
· Check your privacy settings on social media sites.
· Be wary of suspicious email

On the web:

DATCP Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128
DATCP Facebook
Stay Safe Online
Annual Credit Report

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