Identity Theft


(updated 1/11/07)

Identify theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, credit card number or some other piece of your personal information to apply for a credit card, make unauthorized purchases, gain access to your bank accounts or obtain loans under your name .

Victims of identity theft don't normally know they've been victimized until:

They are contacted by a collection agency over past due accounts they never knew they had;
Significant charges show up on a credit card bill for purchases they never made;
A lender tries to repossess a car they didn't know they owned;
They are contacted by the police after a crime is committed in their name.

Protect Yourself

Four simple ways to help protect your identity
1. Be defensive with your personal information
Share information only when you are certain that you know with whom you are communicating.
Keep your Social Security number in safe place. Use it only when absolutely necessary.
When online:
Always review privacy policy
Check the reputation of online organizations
Make sure your transactions are secure
By phone:
Do NOT give out your SSN or credit numbers in response to ANY phone call.
Explain that you do not give out such info to prevent ID theft.
Ask for a call back number so you can verify the caller’s identity.
Do NOT be intimidated by callers. Scammers may pretend to be any authority.
If a caller becomes threatening, even if claiming to be a legal authority, just say you will call the office in question directly to verify their claim.

2. Protect your credit
Carefully check your financial statement every month. If you spot suspicious activity immediately inform your bank.
Take all receipts with you after all credit card or debit card transactions
Tear up or shred any bank statement and other personal information when you don’t need them.

3. Create strong passwords and keep them secret
Please check the Protect yourself section to find more details.
Keep your passwords secret and remember them without writing them down.

4. Improve your computer’s security
You can improve your computer’s security by keeping the antivirus software and other software up to date.

What you can do if someone steals your identity
Immediately File a report with the local police, or whenever the identity theft occurred.
Immediately Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Immediately Close accounts with accessed or opened fraudulently.
Immediately Change the passwords on all your accounts

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