Our Northwest

We fear online fraud, but don’t shred as much

Wednesday, October 15, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Northwest residents worry about identity theft and online fraud, but not enough to keep them from paying their bills electronically.
   The latest PEMCO Poll reveals that although 87% of Washington and Oregon people are at least somewhat fearful their identity could be stolen, 47% say it’s safer to pay their bills online than via U.S. Mail.
   Only 22% of those polled say snail mail is safer. By a small margin, it’s usually people age 35 and up who prefer an envelope and stamp.
   I’m pretty cautious doing everything online, especially purchases. I scrutinize websites to make sure they’re secure. That gave me a decent sense of security until recently, when big retailers like Target and Home Depot announced data breaches.
   PEMCO partners with the the identity fraud experts at Identity Theft 911, now called IDT911. They acknowledge that consumers need to guard against online crime like phishing emails and text solicitations.
   But they also warn that old-fashioned pickpockets remain a big threat, because people often carry several pieces of ID in their wallets and purses – perhaps a drivers license, credit cards, insurance ID, even Social Security cards.
   I was taught years ago to carry my wallet in my front pants pocket, not my rear pocket, because it’s harder to steal that way. I still do that out of habit. I also continue to shred any mail at home that arrives with my full name and address, not to mention those unsolicited credit offers.
   Yet PEMCO’s Poll revealed that fewer people shred nowadays – only 69% in Washington, down from 79% in 2008. Read our news release to learn more.

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