OREGON COUNTY -- Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes not only across the country but also locally, costing millions of dollars each year.
According to Koshkonong Postmaster Donna Steed, victims can spend months, or years, and thousands of dollars cleaning up their good names and credit records, and may lose job opportunities, get turned down for loans, and even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit because of identity theft.
"The Postal Service takes people's privacy very seriously. While Federal Trade Commission research shows people are three times more likely to have their financial information stolen by phone or the Internet than by mail, we recommend local residents take the following steps to protect their personal information across all fronts," Steed said.
* Check your credit card statements, bank documents and financial reports every month for unauthorized activity. If you see it, report it to the appropriate financial institutions immediately.
* Contact the Postal Inspection Service if you discover that your name is being used illegally to obtain credit cards or merchandise by mail. You can file a mail theft complaint online at usps.com/postalinspectors, or call 877-867-2455.
* Never leave outgoing mail on your doorstep or in an unsecured mail receptacle. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox.
* Don't write your credit card number, driver's license number, Social Security number or other personal account data on your checks.
* Never give personal information such as your date of birth, Social Security number or your mother's maiden name over the telephone or to someone you're unsure about.
* Don't just throw away unwanted pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts and financial information -- shred them.
Steed said if these precautions are followed it could save local residents time and money.