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Survey: Nebraskans Putting Digital Identities at Risk


Monday, September 17, 2018   

LINCOLN, Neb. – AARP Nebraska is sounding the alarm about the risks posed by identity theft after a new survey found that many of the state's residents are not taking basic precautions.

Devorah Lanner, director of communications for AARP Nebraska, says with large scale data breaches becoming commonplace, such as those experienced by Equifax, Target and Uber, just about everyone has been exposed.

Lanner says one step consumers can take right away is to freeze their credit, so that thieves posing as them won't be able to get a loan or open up a new credit card.

"A credit freeze is probably the strongest step you can take to prevent identity thieves from opening credit in your name," she points out.

Lanner notes there's no charge to Nebraska consumers to place a freeze, or to remove one if you need to apply for a loan, thanks to a new state law that went into effect in July.

She adds it's also important to establish online access to credit card accounts so you can see if fraudulent charges occur.

Lanner notes consumers should also consider using digital password managers to create and keep track of unique passwords for each of their financial accounts.

In AARP's recent Digital Identity IQ survey, fewer than half of respondents knew that credit cards are safer than debit cards.

Lanner explains that consumers are only on the hook for $50 in fraudulent credit charges, but there are no protections if money is stolen from a bank account through a debit card.

Lanner adds that spending money on monitoring services won't prevent fraud.

"People think that by purchasing an ID theft monitoring service that will prevent identity thieves from stealing their identity,” she states. “But actually monitoring services will only notify you if someone is attempting to open new credit."

Lanner says public Wi-fi also poses risks for theft, and reminds Nebraskans to never make a financial transaction, or even log in to your bank account, when connected at coffee shops, airports and other places that offer free Internet access.

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