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Training assesses identity theft

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - You probably take extra measures to be safe from danger - from putting your seatbelt on to locking your doors.

But are you doing enough to protect yourself from identity thieves?

If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

This from Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas who says identity theft cases are reported to his office almost weekly.

"On Guam we get it quite a bit. In fact we send out the saki alert - if you get anything from people saying come over and talk to us about this money you won, you won first prize. And oh you didn't show up? You're going to get the second prize anyway. By the way, give us information," he said. "Unfortunately when we get a call from a citizen usually its too late - they've already sent out one, two, three thousand dollars - that's too late."

To address this, the OAG teamed up with the FBI to host today and Friday's trainings held at the Office of Civil Defense/Homeland Security.

According to FBI - Leeda Program coordinator Mark Sullivan of the identity theft training series, thieves are more creative than ever - which is why its so important that residents and law enforcement know what to be on the watch for.

"There are a lot of ways that these crimes are being committed. And it involves everything from staling mail to washing checks. What we're seeing more is some cyber activity where they're actually stealing information by electronic means and what we're hoping to do is give local law enforcement tools and resources so they can investigate these cases," he said. "What we encourage people to do is be very vigilant in monitoring their own credit reports, bank account statements, and other credit accounts to make sure they haven't fallen victim to any scams or identity theft cases.:

For you at home, here are some tips for preventing identity theft:
  • Don't carry your Social Security card
  • Protect your PIN number
  • Watch for "shoulder surfers" by using your free hand to shield keypads
  • Collect mail promptly
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles
  • Keep your receipts
  • Tear up or shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements and other documents
  • Store personal information in a safe place
  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your computer
  • Check your credit report at least once a year.
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