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Protecting Your Credit is Easier Than Filling Out Your Bracket

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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By Chetrice Mosley-Romero

It’s safe to say that National Credit Education Month isn’t likely to generate the kind of excitement a lot of us experienced last week, as we filled out our brackets for “March Madness” (especially as we were trying to figure out which of the #13 seeds were going to pull an upset, right?).

But it’s important for you to know that when it comes to protecting your identity and managing your money (especially when you’re online), you’ll want to follow a good game plan, because cybercriminals are out there using a full-court press to try and get you to commit some costly turnovers.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report 2022, 800,944 complaints of cyber-crime were reported to the FBI by the public -- a five percent decrease from 2021 -- but the total potential loss increased from $6.9 billion in 2021 to more than $10.2 billion in 2022. Here in Indiana, in 2022, there were 11,682 complaints, with losses totaling $73.6 million.

Fortunately, there are some great (and FREE) resources Hoosiers can use to help stay safe, including the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office -- featuring a variety of interactive tools on its website to help protect you from being a victim of identity theft. And while it’s true that you cannot avoid the risk completely, you can benefit from using some of the resources that are out there to protect yourself and learn more about what you can do to educate yourself and your family.

If you need assistance, the Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit provides investigative services to help in the prosecution of identity thieves. The Identity Theft Unit is committed to reducing incidents of identity theft around the state by providing free educational resources, as well as information on how to “freeze” your credit and block unwanted calls from telemarketers. The site also offers links to information from the Identity Theft Resource Center, including the steps you can take to recover your identity, as well as protect your business.

Because cybercrimes also involve different forms of cyber incidents and cyberattacks, such as ransomware, malware, denial of service, among others), as well as fraud and other violations of privacy, you’ll want to be sure and visit some of the other pages on this website -- known as the Indiana Cybersecurity Hub -- including the steps you need to take if you have to report that you’ve been the victim of a cybercrime -- including the information you need to share if you work in local government.

Another resource (also FREE) is the Federal Trade Commission. The site offers everything from helpful tips on how to protect yourself against identity theft to knowing how to tell if someone has stolen your identity.

At a time when it can take less than a minute to withdraw money from an ATM or transfer thousands of our hard-earned dollars electronically, you might be interested to know that credit is something that was first used in the 1520’s -- defined as a term that came with a mix of different origins, including “belief, trust” and was also described as “a loan, [a] thing entrusted to another”, as well as a past participle of credere "to trust, entrust, believe".

Whatever the circumstance that you find yourself in, it’s good to know that there’s help out there to keep who we are - along with our credit - safe and secure, and that’s still got to be easier than figuring out who’s going to win all of these basketball games!