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      February 17, 2019

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Identity Theft in New York

New York MapCriminals are targeting New Yorkers for identity theft, with almost 19,000 residents reporting this violation of their privacy and security to the Federal Trade Commission every year. These thieves use stolen social security numbers, credit cards, and other personal data to get jobs, to obtain medical care and expensive cosmetic procedures, to take out payday loans in several states at once, and even as aliases during their criminal activities.

Identity theft can cost its victims dearly in terms of time and money, as proving that purchases made and accounts opened were done so fraudulently can be difficult at best; sadly, some individuals have also experienced false imprisonment for crimes committed in their names.

How can New York residents prevent becoming victims of identity theft? The best approach is to make sure that personal information is never taken in the first place. One prime piece of information is social security numbers, so it is best to leave any documents bearing SSNs (including the cards themselves) in a safe place at home rather than carrying it in a purse or wallet. While many businesses will request SSNs on their forms, New Yorkers should first ask why it is being requested, how it will be used, and most importantly, how it will be safeguarded by the business itself.

Another useful tactic is to make use of Identity Theft Protection services. These companies give customers peace of mind by monitoring their social security numbers, credit cards and bank accounts, and other personal information around the clock. Any potentially criminal, unauthorized activity is flagged immediately and blocked from happening again, preventing customers from being victimized over a long period of time without even realizing it.

While identity theft is a frightening prospect, the average New Yorker can protect him- or herself from being victimized with the help of both paid services and wise decision-making with respect to their personal information.


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