7 On Your Side: How to protect yourself from ID theft

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7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has the latest

The numbers are skyrocketing and scary: Just last year, identity thieves stole $16 billion from consumers, up $1 billion from the previous year.

ID theft happens more and more because we overshare on social media and don't protect our personal information. The son of a Flatbush senior who was victimized reached out to 7 On Your Side after his mom shared her Social Security number.

Moise Bruny's mom, Mimose LeConte, made the mistake millions make each year.

"I flipped out and said, 'Why are you giving your Social Security number?'" Bruny said. "'You're not supposed to give.'"

She was conned by a caller who she thought was trying to help.

"They asked me, 'Do you have a back problem,'" she said. "And I said yes."

They asked for her Social Security number and birthday, and then hung up.

"I have a feeling I'm in trouble," LeConte said.

She was, with the keys to her ID in the hands of a stranger. We pledged our help and asked identity theft expert and founder of CyberScout, Adam Levin, to give us a step-by-step plan.

Step 1: Respond rapidly by calling your bank and credit cards to set up fraud alerts. We immediately alerted LeConte's bank.

The fraud alert will make sure no one can access accounts unless they give you this new password.

Step 2: Report the fraud to the Social Security Administration.

Next, we helped freeze LeConte's credit by contacting all three credit reporting agencies -- Transunion, Experian and Equifax -- online and requesting a security freeze. That means nobody can open a credit card in her name, unless her credit is unlocked.

The big takeaway is to check your credit reports frequently and investigate any irregularities. Enroll for transaction alerts through your bank or credit card company that ding your phone anytime you have action on your accounts, and consider investing in an ID monitoring service (usually with a per month charge).

For more information, visit IDtheftInfo.org.
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7 On Your Sideidentity theft
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