Identity Theft: Study Shows You Have More Control Than You Think

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Law enforcement officers say identity theft is on the rise in Western Wisconsin.

But new research from the Better Business Bureau shows that people have more control than they think.

The BBB says the number one misperception about identity theft is that consumers are helpless to protect themselves.

And the research shows that victims usually know the person stealing their identity.

So we talked to detectives at the Eau Claire Police Department to find out what you can do to make sure you don't become a victim.

"Anybody who has access to your credit card number really has the opportunity to victimize you," said Detective Kevin Farley of the Eau Claire Police Department. "For that reason be diligent, make sure all charges are your own."

The research found most personal information theft isn't happening online. But it's happening in all sorts of ways: Misuse of credit cards, forged checks, "phishing" phone calls asking for personal information, stealing a wallet or purse or even taking mail right out of your mailbox.

"The quicker you can identify anything fraudulent, the safer you will be," Farley said.

But detectives say there are things you can do to prevent ID fraud from happening to you.

Check your credit reports and bank statements regularly.

Keep your wallet, purse, laptop and cell phone with you or in a secure place at all times.

Bring your mail inside right away.

And protect sensitive computer files with a secure password.

The report showed something else interesting: Adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have the highest rate of ID fraud.

Coming up Wednesday night on NewsCenter 13 at Six, we'll meet an area man who had his identity stolen and find out how he's working to get his life back into his own hands.