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Wallet Watchers: Helping You Save Money

Updated May 29, 2013 - 7:47 am

Protect your identity this summer

The movie "Identity Thief" comes to mind when thinking of how easy it is for thieves to steal our personal information.

It may be as easy as getting a call from a person claiming to be from your bank or a credit monitoring agency letting you know your credit card has been compromised, but then asks you to confirm personal details they use to scam you.

Recently, a woman was seen withdrawing money at two Valley banks using a stolen driver's license. Police say she even opened a credit account at a Nordstrom's store and bought over $4,000 in merchandise.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Here's a few tips from the Federal Trade Commission.:

Protect your documents: Thieves rummage through trash at homes, businesses or public dumps for useful information. Avoid throwing away anything that has personal information like addresses, social security numbers or bank account numbers. Shred instead. Have a go-to stack of important documents to grab in case of an emergency.

Beware of online scams: The Internet can be a trap of personal identifiers. Make sure your computer has spyware software and is up to date. The longer your passwords the harder they are to hack into. Back up your files periodically.

Monitor often: Starting with a free yearly credit report, look out for any strange transactions on your bank accounts. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Social networks: Don't over share. We may not realize but we give out personal information on our social networks. That information could be used to answer "challenge" questions for your accounts. Never post your phone number, address or social security number online.

Steps to take if you've been a victim: Contact the credit reporting companies and place a fraud alert on your credit file. Order your credit reports and create an identity theft report. It's very important you keep track of who you call. Log the calls and who you spoke with. Send letters only by certified mail. Create a file and make timelines to keep track of your progress.

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About the Author

Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.


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