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Survey Finds Consumers Lack Knowledge on ID Theft; YOUR CU Hosts Shred Day
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:15 AM

Despite recent reports showing increases in identity theft, consumers’ knowledge on identity theft is apparently not keeping pace with the crime. According to the new 2013 LifeLock Tax Fraud Survey, among 2,090 U.S. adults age 18 and older, less than one quarter (24 percent) of taxpayers selected the top two points of concern on a five point scale about identity theft when filing their returns.

Additionally, 70 percent of Americans think it is possible for a fraudster to use their name and Social Security Number (SSN) to file a return before they do, blocking the actual taxpayer’s refund from the IRS. Yet despite this concern, 38 percent of those who have previous years’ returns saved on their computer do not have password protection for these files.

In February 2013 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released their annual “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book” that looked at consumer complaints from January 1 through December 21, 2012. Identity theft was the number one complaint category in the Consumer Sentinel Network, and of those more than 369,000 complaints, Government Documents and Benefits fraud accounted for 46 percent of all complaints. As noted by the FTC, identity theft related to Government Documents and Benefits includes Tax or Wage Related Fraud, accounting for 43 percent of the complaints.

Credit unions like YOUR Community CU are trying to help consumers protect their identity by hosting events such as shred day. 

“Unfortunately identity theft continues to rise, so this [hosting a shred day] is something we can do for the community to help deter this type of activity,” said Mark O’Bryan, president and CEO of the Irving-based credit union.

The credit union will host its shred day April 13, and is making this service available free of charge to members and the community-at-large.  O’Bryan says credit union staff will be on hand to help with questions, and information on fraud and identity theft prevention will be available.

The shred day is being held at the credit union’s 8384 N Belt Line Rd. location in Irving.  The credit union is encouraging members and others to bring old bills, paperwork and personal, sensitive information to be shredded.  The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The 2013 LifeLock Tax Fraud Survey highlights include:

  • No Password = No Protection – Nearly three in 10 (29 percent) Americans keep copies of previous years’ tax returns on their computer, but 38 percent of this group do not protect their returns with a password. This makes these returns more vulnerable to criminals through peer-to-peer file sharing programs or lost devices.
  • College Graduates at Great Risk – Those who are college graduates or have higher education (45 percent) are more likely than those with some college education or less (22 percent) to store copies of previous years’ tax returns on a computer, but 44 percent of this group still did not have the return password-protected.
  • North Versus South – Americans in the Southern states (27 percent) are more likely to have selected the top two points on a five point scale of concern about identity theft when filing compared to their Northeastern counterparts (18 percent).