Identity theft on the rise in South Carolina

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Identity theft is on the rise statewide, and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis says how you use social media like Facebook and Twitter could put you at a bigger risk. He was at the College of Charleston reminding students to beware as part of his statewide financial literacy tour. He says information you publicize on social media could make it easier for criminals to steal your identity. He says thieves are always searching or phishing online for information.

"Lot of times they give their actual information, names, addresses things, like that, depends on what you send, what you've left out there to be used. They're always looking, there are always people phishing," Loftis said.

The state treasurer says identity theft cases statewide increased 15% from 2010 to 2011. While the study didn't directly link the rise to the use of social media, he says there is a correlation.

Students say they take steps online to avoid becoming a victim.

"You can set it where it's just your friends and family, hopefully I don't have strangers looking at my stuff," Carroll said.

"If there's anything that you're not prepared for anyone to see or be able to get from your site, it's not smart to put it there," Conners said.

The state treasurer says he hopes to empower more people to protect themselves.

"You just have to be careful, it's not complicated. You just have to be careful," Loftis said.

Anyone with a social security number and a credit history could be at risk of identity theft. By federal law, you can get a copy of your credit report once a year for free from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. If it shows credit cards or spending you don't know about, the state treasurer says you should report it to police.

Studies show the Palmetto State ranks 20th nationwide in ID theft complaints. Last year 12 million Americans were victims.

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