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Source: Extreme close up of part of a credit card with shallow depth of field. Account number changed for security

CHICAGO — Identity theft remains a common problem that Hoosiers and other people around the Midwest are facing every year.

Already as we exit the first month of 2024, the Federal Trade Commission has received over a thousand reports of identity theft by Hoosiers. It once again has the FTC reminding you of ways that you can prevent it from happening to you.

“This is one of the top issues reported to us from folks in Indiana,” said Joannie Wei, the assistant director of the FTC’s Midwest Region Office in Chicago.

She said there are many ways you can become a victim of identity theft. The most common is still credit card fraud where scammers and thieves get ahold of your credit card information and use it to open new accounts in your name or to simply spend money.

But Wei said a growing new trend with identity thieves has been “loan and lease fraud” where they will steal your identity and then use your information to apply for a small business or personal loan in your name.

She added that it’s primarily impacting Hoosiers from ages 30 to 45, which is breaking away from trends in the 2010s of identity theft impacting primarily elderly people.

“The first thing everyone should consider doing is to put a credit freeze on their accounts to prevent any further damage,” Wei recommended on ways to avoid identity theft. “If you have a credit freeze no one can use your information to open any new accounts in your name.”

Wei said you can freeze your credit by contacting one of the three credit bureaus TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

To stay on top of your identity, she advises that you look at your credit reports regularly and look out for odd charges that you don’t remember making. She said other ways to know if your identity was stolen include debt collectors calling you or you stop receiving certain bills which may indicate someone has changed your information.

All of these, she says, you can stay on top of by visiting where you can find resources to help you avoid or recover from identity theft.