A security breach in Denver’s Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield has led to the exposure of about 470,000 Colorado customers to identity theft. The Anthem web site upgrade glitch that exposed private personal information was undetected for up to five months.
Any Anthem Colorado customer whose social security number has been exposed is at risk for identity theft forever.
The exposure and susceptibility of Coloradans to social security breaches and identity theft has increased substantially over the past few years thanks to technological advances, creative thieves and constant reliance on credit cards and computers. Even someone overseas can commit identity fraud in Colorado.
Scam artists are targeting many elderly Denver citizens by phone and email, telling them they have won the lottery in another country and need to wire money outside of the country before receiving the funds. Others are phone harassed and threatened to give up deceased spousal social security numbers or pay ghost fines.
Craigslist, a popular online classifieds community, was recently raided by scam artists via job postings for credit checks to housing rentals.
Many Colorado job postings targeted towards administrative positions are followed up with a statement about using the company credit card and requiring applicants to submit a credit check through a couple of websites first. These fake sites collect your personal information in a foreign country while slowly pilfering minute amounts of money from your credit card.
Nigerian and British scam artists target unsuspecting Colorado residents in search of apartment and housing rentals by pricing a real house at a low rate and sending applicants stories of how they are currently bidding for oil in North Africa and just really need someone to take care of their house while they are away. The scam artist will then ask for a deposit in return for the key to be FedEx’d to your home.
In today’s day and age, it’s getting harder for Colorado to trust their private information in other people’s hands, but there are many ways to prevent identity theft and financial scams.
1. Use cash rather than credit card or debit card when as much as possible.
2. Get a free credit report once a year from one of the nation’s top three credit report companies -Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
3. Lessen your usage of debit cards as you are required to punch in your pin number in public.
4. Never toss your credit card receipts in a public container. Take it home with you and shred it.
5. Shred private information and mail.
6. Do not bookmark your online banking information or other online bill pay.
7. Review your credit card bill and make sure that you did indeed purchase everything on the bill.
8. Be wary of who you use free WIFI from.
9. Do not give private information to people who call asking to update your information or something of the sort. Only give information to reputable companies that you choose to call and already have a relationship with.
10. Do not put your birth date year on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace.
11. Do not declare on social networking sites that you will not be home for an extended period of time, especially if you will not have someone taking care of your home.
12. When purchasing goods online, do not give personal information to risky sellers.
13. Change online passwords often and encrypt them. For example, instead of “Apples” use a code like “4pp73s”.
14. Do not allow ex-employees of your company access to company information.
All of these are simple everyday steps to take in prevent identity theft and credit card scams in Colorado. Be sure to keep your private life, private, and you will have less of a chance of going through the hassle of dealing with identity theft in Colorado.