Identity theft is up since the pandemic began; here’s how you can protect yourself

Last year, more than 38,000 Texans fell victim to identity theft, Better Business Bureau says

Identity theft is up since the pandemic; here’s how you can protect yourself

SAN ANTONIO – Chances are, either you or someone you know has dealt with identity theft or fraud. The Better Business Bureau told KSAT that crime has been on the rise since the pandemic began.

“I had filled out a job application, the company got breached, and [my information] got taken that way,” said Armando Seledon.

Seledon told KSAT his identity was stolen about 15 years ago. The person(s) who did it opened credit cards in Seledon’s name and went on a big shopping spree.

“They were … in a mortgage process in California, with my Social Security number,” explained Seledon.

Unfortunately, the fraud’s impact continued to get worse. Because Seledon’s credit was ruined, he also had difficulty finding work.

“It was difficult. I had to continuously prove that it wasn’t me [committing the fraud],” he said.

Seledon’s not alone. The Better Business Bureau said identity theft victimizes about 7% of US households. The BBB said it had gone up since the pandemic began.

Last year, more than 38,000 Texans fell victim to identity theft. That number is up from 18,000 victims in 2018.

“We’re doing a lot of transfers with cash apps and digital wallets [since the pandemic],” said Jason Meza, regional director for the Better Business Bureau.

Meza also said senior citizens and 18- to 24-year-olds are the most vulnerable.

“My best advice is: be cautious when you interact with links that are unsolicited. Inbound links should be treated with caution,” he said.

Meza also said to keep your information safe, it’s best to keep software and antivirus apps on your devices up to date. Also, read your credit card bills carefully. If there are any bogus charges, report them to your credit card company.

However, if you’ve already fallen victim, visit www.identitytheft.gov. The Federal Trade Commission runs the site. It helps victims form a recovery plan.

Seledon wishes he had more tools at his disposal when his identity was stolen. It took him years to fix his credit. Now, he doesn’t take any chances.

“I do constant credit monitoring now,” said Seledon.

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About the Author:

Stephania Jimenez is an anchor on The Nightbeat. She began her journalism career in 2006, after graduating from Syracuse University. She's anchored at NBC Philadelphia, KRIS in Corpus Christi, NBC Connecticut and KTSM in El Paso. Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Stephania considers Texas home. Stephania is bilingual! She speaks Spanish.