Texas ranks 5th in the nation for reported cases of ID theft
BBB gives tips to safeguard personal information
AUSTIN, Texas - Apr. 17, 2012 – In the latest Consumer Sentinel Network report issued by the Federal Trade Commission, Texas ranks fifth in the nation for the most reported cases of identity theft per 100,000 residents. Out of 384 metropolitan areas nationwide, cities in Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin were ranked as follows:
Austin - 143rd
Corpus Christi - 44th
Killeen/Temple/Fort Hood - 78th
Laredo - 24th
Midland - 249th
Odessa - 185th
San Antonio - 86th
Victoria - 154th
Waco - 209th
There were more than 24,000 reported cases of identity theft in Texas in 2011. Government documents/benefits fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft at 24 percent, followed by employment-related fraud (15 percent), phone or utilities fraud (13 percent), credit card fraud (12 percent), bank fraud (10 percent) and loan fraud (4 percent).
Those aged 20 – 29 remain the most heavily targeted group, making up 23 percent of the total number of victims reporting their age in CSN.
To avoid falling victim to identity theft, BBB recommends consumers shred all sensitive documents, never carry their social security card, never give out personal information over the phone or to unknown people and avoid suspicious links.
BBB also advises consumers have a document retention schedule. BBB offers the following suggestions:
· Insurance documentation: Keep everything as long as you have the policy. Also save any paperwork regarding unresolved claims/coverage.
· Keep utility, cell phone and similar bills only until you receive confirmation that your payment has been processed. The only exception to this is if you are self-employed. Self-employed people should keep these records longer so they can prove any deductions on their tax forms.
· Loan documentation: Keep all paperwork until you pay off the loan. Then, you can shred everything except the document that proves you paid in full.
· Monthly bank statements: Find out how much time your bank and/or credit cards give you to challenge incorrect statements. Keep them until you are no longer able to challenge them. This is typically between 60 days to one year after the mistake is made.
· Keep one year:
- Paycheck stubs: Don't throw away your paycheck stubs until you receive your annual W-2 form from your employer. If everything matches, feel free to shred your pay stubs. Then, keep your W-2 forms for at least a few years.
· Keep three years:
- Bank statements
- Expired insurance policies
· Keep seven years:
- Tax returns, canceled checks/receipts, records for tax deductions taken. The IRS has six years to challenge your return if it thinks that you underreported your gross income by 25 percent or more.
· Keep forever:
- All paperwork related to bankruptcy, inheritance and wills.
- Auditor's reports.
- House/Condominium records: It is a good idea to keep documents of expenditures related to house/condominium improvements. Capital purchases that improve or enhance the value of your home when you sell your property may lower your capital gains tax.
- IRA contribution records: If you made a nondeductible contribution to an IRA plan, such as a Roth IRA, keep your records to show that you were already taxed for this money.
About Better Business Bureau:
BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.
Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.Contact BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin at (512) 445-4748.