Shopping madness in the days ahead means taking preventative measures to protect your identity

Monday, Nov. 25, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

COLUMBIA, SC (WRDW/WAGT) – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says personal security breaches are the highest they've seen in years.

Hundreds of thousands of people have had their personal information stolen in the past three months, and it’s expected to get worse as we head into the holidays.

Whether you live on social media or under a rock, Bailey Parker with the Department of Consumer Affairs says your information is out there.

“My 87-year-old grandma doesn't even have the internet at her house, doesn't have a computer,” Parker said. “If I Google her, her entire information shows up.”

In just the past three months, nearly 600,000 people in South Carolina have had their personal information breached.

“In the last couple of years, this is the highest that we've seen,” Parker said.

It can be as simple as a stolen password to something as serious as full-blown identity theft.

“Once an identity thief gets stuff on your credit report, it can take years if not decades to rectify,” Parker said.

As holiday-time approaches, parker believes it'll only get worse.

“I don't want to make people scared,” Parker said. “That's not what we're here for. I just want to make people aware that there are going to be people trying to take advantage of your giving spirit.”

While there's no way to fully protect yourself, there are preventative measures you can take. It starts with getting a freeze on your credit report.
“It's free,” Parker said. “All you have to do is call each of the three credit major credit reporting agencies. That's Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

You can also take a proactive role in keeping your social media accounts private.

“All they need is your full name and your date of birth,” Parker said. “That's all they need to really steal your identity.”

So if your information is going to be out there, you might as well be an active participant in making sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

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