Tips to avoid identity theft, scams and fraud

Tips to avoid identity theft, scams and fraud


If you suspect a scam, report it to the appropriate agency:

Federal Trade Commission: or 1-866-653-4261

United States Postal Service: or 1-877-876-2455

Wisconsin trade and consumer protection: or 1-800-422-7128

Better Business Bureau: or call 414-847-6000.

If your identity has been stolen:

Go to to report identity theft and get a personal recovery plan.

Place a free fraud alert using one of the three credit bureaus: Experian, 888-397-3742; Trans Union, 888-909-8872; Equifax, 1-800-685-1111.

Common scams

IRS/U.S. Treasury: A fake agent claims you owe back taxes and demands immediate payment.

Tech support: A fake computer technician says you have a computer virus they can repair for payments and remote access to the computer.

Utility: Someone claims you are behind on a bill and will disconnect the utility if payment is not made immediately.

Family emergency: Someone claims a family member is in trouble and requests money.

Miscellaneous topics: lottery, timeshare sales, charity fraud, debt collection


Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make the caller ID read anything. Do not answer unrecognized calls. Hang up on robo calls. Never press any buttons even if it states it is to be removed from the list.

Utility companies and government agencies will not demand immediate payments.

Never give out personal or banking information.

If you get a one-ring call, do not call back.

Never carry your Social Security card or use that number as a PIN or password.

Shred bills, receipts, credit card offers, canceled checks and anything that contains personal or financial information.

Don’t stay permanently logged into online accounts.

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using Wi-Fi hot spots.

Do not use the same password on different websites.

Monitor credit reports regularly by requesting a free copy at or call 1-877-322-8228.

Never click on a link in an unsolicited email or text message.

Put firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware protection on the computer and use strong passwords.

Stop pre-approved credit card offers online at or by calling 1-888-567-8688.

Eliminate your name from large mailing lists sold to direct mail marketers by registering free every three years with DMAchoise at or by mailing Direct Marketing Association Inc., 1615 L Street, Washington, DC 20036.

Sign up for Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or at

— Jill Tatge-Rozell


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