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Afraid of ID theft? You should be

Protect Your Identity Week offers free workshops, shredding, cellphone recycling and tips on keeping private info secure.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 19, 2012 12:29PM

Logo: Shredder (Kelly Redinger/age fotostock/age fotostock)A recent survey shows that 64% of Americans fear the possibility of identity theft. There's a reason for that, especially if you use a smartphone.

"People often become complacent, particularly with their mobile devices," says Gail Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.


Critical financial information is stored on many smartphones. Yet a startling 62% of Americans don't use password protection, according to the same survey, conducted for Protect Your Identity Week.


Fast-rising use of mobile devices -- smartphones outsold computers last year -- is the reason that "ID theft protection on the go" is the theme of this year's event, which takes place Oct. 20 to 27.

Free document shredding, cellphone recycling, workshops, credit report reviews and information on how to keep your private information secure will be offered in 28 states. Use this NFCC map to find what's available in your region.

The weeklong event is co-sponsored by the NFCC, the National Association of Triads (an organization that focuses on the safety of elders) and the National Sheriffs Association.

It pays to be vigilant even if you don't use a smartphone. Check out the "identity theft myths" section of the PYIW website. You or your loved ones may be at risk in ways you never considered, such as medical identity theft or child identity theft.


Risky business?
According to an international survey from ACI Worldwide, a company that provides payment systems to banks and merchants, 25% of the people surveyed in 17 countries were the victims of credit card fraud.

Yet many continue "risky" behaviors, such as using public computers for online shopping and banking, keeping written records of their PINs and failing to shred documents that contain sensitive information.

"While there have been significant advances in fraud prevention technology, it is clear that more needs to be done to educate consumers about fraud," says ACI spokesman Mike Braatz.

Sticking your head in the sand won't help you. The PYIW site offers useful links to entities like the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and the World Privacy Forum. Use them to reduce your risk for ID theft. And for heaven's sake, put a password on your smartphone.

Ever been the victim of identity or credit theft?

More on MSN Money:

Oct 20, 2012 4:47PM
I wish someone would steal my identity; thanks to student loans, I can't get credit. 
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.