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Identity Theft a Growing Threat

Posted by Shelley Nelson on March 10, 2015 in Uncategorized |


Identity thieves are constantly on the prowl for your personal information. As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce are offering advice for protecting yourself and steps you can take if your ID is compromised. Identity theft can happen to anyone and because scammers are always getting smarter, it’s important to remain vigilant.


“While businesses have the responsibility to protect sensitive data, consumers can take proactive steps to protect their personal information,” said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.


“This is an issue that isn’t going away, and perhaps the best people can do is be clear on how they can best protect themselves and what they should do if their identity is stolen,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.


Identity thieves will stop at nothing to gather personal information, which can be stolen in a variety of ways:


Mail theft. For fraudsters, it’s as easy as opening up the victim’s mail box and taking their bank statements or other financial information. It’s a good idea to closely monitor your incoming mail. If you’re expecting sensitive materials to arrive through the mail, check and retrieve your mail daily. If there’s a delay in delivery, contact the sender to check the status.


ATM skimming. Devices installed illegally on ATM machines can gather information contained on your debit card’s magnetic strip. Be sure to inspect the ATM for signs of tampering and avoid ATMs in poorly-lit or low-trafficked areas. When making a withdrawal from an ATM, it’s also a good idea to cover your password with your hand.

Credit card offers/bank statements. Be sure to shred unwanted credit card offers and old bank statements. Thieves are more than willing to go dumpster diving if it might lead to a potential payday. Around the house, make a habit of keeping sensitive financial documents in a secure location.


Protect your Social Security number. Don’t provide your Social Security number unless it’s absolutely necessary. If at all possible, offer alternative forms of identification such as your driver license. Never give your Social Security number out over the phone.


Social Media. When you post to sites like Facebook, keep in mind – depending upon your privacy settings – that information is public. Scammers are looking for phone numbers, birth dates, employment information and any other sensitive information they can use for illicit purposes.


If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, the FTC recommends the following:


  1. Place an initial fraud alert by contacting any of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax.com, Experian.com or TransUnion.com). When you place a Fraud Alert on your credit report with any one of the three major credit reporting companies, that company will notify the other two and fraud alerts will also be placed on those files, too
  2. Monitor your credit report. Under Federal Law, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report every twelve months from each credit reporting company.
  3. Report it to the Authorities. File a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov and also your local police department. Get copies of both the police report and your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce and BBB here to help.


The Minnesota Department of Commerce is here if you have questions or issues about insurance, or believe you have been the victim of a scam or fraud.

Consumers may contact the Consumer Services Center at 651-539-1600 or (800) 657-3602. Consumers can file a complaint on the Commerce Department website. Complaints can also be sent to Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 7th Place East, Suite 500, Saint Paul, MN 55101 or by email to consumer.protection@state.mn.us


Complaints can also be filed online at bbb.org.



BBB offers tips on shopping online safely

Posted by Shelley Nelson on March 5, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Websites such as craigslist continue to be a top resource for people looking to buy and sell used – and unused – merchandise or household goods. While most transactions are successful and bargains can be found, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) reminds people it’s important to exercise caution and take steps […]


Why you should care about consumer protection week

Posted by Shelley Nelson on March 2, 2015 in Uncategorized |

 In the aftermath of the recent, unprecedented data breach at Anthem Insurance, The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin says that this National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) takes on a new sense of urgency for all consumers and businesses. NCPW is a coordinated campaign which began yesterday and will run through Saturday.  This year’s theme for […]


Ransomware viruses continue to lock up computers; smartphones also targeted

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 27, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Burnsville, Minnesota – Feb. 26 – Aggressive computer viruses continue to make the rounds, causing unlucky computer users to see messages which threaten people with fines or prison unless they pay up. These viruses encrypt – lock up – files on affected computers, holding them hostage, hence its name: ransomware. These viruses are spread through […]


Enter online relationships with eyes wide open

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 13, 2015 in Uncategorized |

MADISON – Love may be blind but if your Valentine’s Day plans include looking for love online, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) reminds you to keep your eyes open for scammers who are ready to take advantage of you-and your money. People using online dating services or social media to […]


Don’t be fooled by romance scams

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized |

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota® (BBB) advises people looking to start new relationships to watch out for romance scams. This is a scheme wherein unscrupulous individuals look to defraud people by pretending to be a love interest and playing on emotions for their own financial gain. […]


BBB Shreds, Recycles Record Amount of Documents Helping Prevent Identity Theft

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 11, 2015 in Uncategorized |

The year 2014 proved to be another busy year for the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin and its education foundation.   The BBB reached millions of people and business owners through media alerts, media stories to warn against scams, social media, consumer and business newsletters, blogs, scam-stopper, tips on buying smarter, and educational events.   One such event […]


BBB warns businesses not to click on questionnaire email

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 10, 2015 in Uncategorized |

 Better Business Bureau is warning businesses not to click on an email that claims to be a “BBB SBQ” (standard business questionnaire). The email was sent out this morning to what is believed to be tens of thousands of businesses across the country. The email has a ZIP file attachment that links to a site that […]


Scammers Already Sending Fake Anthem Emails

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 9, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Milwaukee, Wis. – It never takes long for scammers to exploit the latest news. Just a day after the announcement that as many as 80 million customers of Anthem could be victims of a data breach, scammers are sending out emails that very convincingly spoof Anthem’s logo and corporate look. These emails are unrelated to the data […]


State agency encourages investors to discuss cybersecurity with financial professionals

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 6, 2015 in Uncategorized |

State agency encourages investors to discuss cybersecurity with financial professionals MADISON – With an ever-growing list of financial institutions targeted by organized cyber-attacks, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today issued an advisory reminding investors of the importance of protecting the personal information they share with their financial professionals.   “The increasing reliance on technology […]

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