ID Theft

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses personal identifying information of another person like their name, Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number or other to commit fraud or other crimes.

Fraudsters can obtain your personal information by stealing wallets and purses, stealing mail, “Dumpster Diving” for documents with personal information, sending e-mails that appear to be from legitimate businesses or organizations asking for consumer's personal information (Phishing), observing users typing in their credentials or other personal information in public places (Shoulder Surfing), using special storage devices to steal your credit or debit card number (Skimming), using false pretenses to obtain your information from your bank, phone company, or even you (Pretexting), retrieving information from discarded IT equipment, stealing files from businesses where they are a customer or employee, or by hacking into electronic files. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, affecting nearly ten million Americans a year. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that you may never be a victim but you can minimize the risks.

Prevent Identity Theft

Use passwords and PIN numbers for your credit card, bank, and phone accounts.

  • Do not give out your Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary –- ask for a randomly generated ID number.
  • Do not give out your personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact or know you can trust the person on the other side.
  • Review online accounts like credit card and bank statements regularly for unauthorized charges. Credit reports from the credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are available for free, twice a year.Ensure the information is accurate and there is no suspicious or unauthorized activity.
  • Shred and destroy documents containing personal information rather than throwing them away. This includes credit card offers you receive in the mail, bank statements, phone bills, etc.
  • Destroy digital data when no longer in use. Ensure the data on a computer system, hard drive, CD, DVD, etc. is completely destroyed before you sell, trade or dispose.
  • Be wary of e-mail scams. If you did not enter an international lottery, it is unlikely that you won anything. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be wary of shopping online. When you make purchases online, ensure the company is legitimate, read their online privacy policy and ensure you are on a secure web site
  • Most major banks, Paypal, Discover provide a one time, secure online credit card for such purchases.
  • Do not enter sensitive information into a public computer.
  • If you think or know you are a victim, take the following action as soon as possible
  • Contact companies, including banks, where you have accounts for unauthorized transactions.
  • Contact the three credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) for any unauthorized activity.
  • File a report with the Federal trade Commission and local police.