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Ready, Set, Freeze: Protecting Your Digital ID

Nearly half of Kentucky adults surveyed said they have experienced fraudulent charges on a credit or debit card. (Pixabay)
Nearly half of Kentucky adults surveyed said they have experienced fraudulent charges on a credit or debit card. (Pixabay)
October 23, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A new survey indicates more than two-thirds of Kentuckians think becoming the victim of credit theft is unavoidable. However, consumer groups say it doesn't have to be inevitable.

In a recent survey conducted by AARP Kentucky, 73 percent of people failed a new digital-identity quiz. Volunteer with the organization Deborah Turner said people can strengthen their online security by following their "Ready, Set, Freeze" steps.

She said the first step is to can ready yourself by using password managers to create strong, unique passwords. And the next step is to set up digital banking accounts.

"There are a lot of people in Kentucky who have not set up their banking and financial information so that it can be monitored,” Turner said. “They want to wait for the hard-copy reports that come out which may be too late to actually stop the access of money."

The third step is to order a security freeze with all three credit-reporting bureaus, which is now free as the result of legislation passed by Congress this year.

The survey found just about half of adults have experienced fraudulent charges on a credit or debit card, yet very few have ordered a security freeze on their credit reports. Kelly May, public information officer with the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions, said a credit report freeze is helpful for people of all ages.

"If they have a young child who may not have credit yet, or if they have some credit, it is good credit, that is the kind of credit that identity thieves are after,” May said. “So putting a freeze on a young adult's account or a child's account can help protect them."

Turner encouraged Kentuckians to sign up for Watchdog Alerts through the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which provides free information about current scams.

"One of the reasons that it goes across the entire country and provides that information is if a scam occurs in Delaware, often it's going to eventually move into Kentucky,” Turner said; “so that you can find out what's coming and be prepared."

There are also prevention tips, scam-tracking maps and fraud counselors available through the website, aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY