(COLORADO) — Monday, Jan. 30 is the beginning of ‘Identity Theft Awareness Week’ for 2023, Colorado Treasurer Dave Young, shared information to let people know what identity theft is and ways to prevent it.

“Identity theft is a growing problem, and, unfortunately, thieves are using technology to become more sophisticated,” said Treasurer Young. “Because identity theft can lead to significant financial damage, it’s crucial that Coloradans take steps today in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from identity theft.”

Consumer tips to avoid identity thieves from Treasurer Young

  • Pay attention to what you receive and leave in your mailbox, especially if it is not a locked mailbox.
    • Personal checks, credit card statements, bank statements, and utility and medical bills contain valuable personal information that could be a goldmine for scammers. Consider having these statements and payments delivered electronically instead and using a postal drop box.”
  • Be mindful of what documents you put in your trash.
    • Identity thieves are willing to dig through garbage to find valuable information. To reduce the risk of identity theft, consider purchasing a good paper shredder, and if the document has anything beyond your name and address on it, shred it. Can’t afford a shredder? Free paper shredding events and services might be available in your community.
  • When accessing your financial accounts online, never click on a link from an email, even if you think it is from your bank.
    • Scammers have become increasingly sophisticated at creating emails and links that resemble legitimate companies’ emails. If you are in doubt, contact your financial institution directly at the customer service number listed on their website.
  • When you are shopping online, do not enter personal information or financial data unless you are 100% confident the site is secure.
  • Pay attention to what you post on social media.
    • While it is fun to answer those questionnaires about your first car, your high school mascot, or your first pet’s name, the information you provide is an easy way for scammers and hackers to figure out information used in passwords and answers to security questions.
  • Stay on top of your finances.
    • Awareness is one of your best defenses against identity theft so take advantage of all the free tools offered by the institutions you deal with. Most financial institutions offer multiple types of alerts you can set up for your accounts, and many offer the ability to freeze accounts until you are ready to use them. Purchases are posted to accounts almost instantly and you can review those as often as you like.
  • Make it hard for thieves to get your information.
    • Reduce your exposure to identity thieves by storing your personal and financial information in a lockbox or an inexpensive safe. Traveling? Never leave personal or financial information in your vehicle.

Treasurer Young said if you do have your identity stolen, report the theft and get a recovery plan from the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft website.

Another recommendation is to purchase an identity theft protection program for yourself and your family.