What is it?
Identity theft has been around for sometime but the threat is still very real and very distressing. Identity theft is when your personal identifying information has been stolen and then used to purchase vehicles, take out a loan, apply for credit cards, open bank accounts, rent an apartment, establishing utility services etc. It is someone else masquerading as you; using your identity for personal gain. Examples of personal identifying information (PII) include your social security number, driver's license number, bank account information, passwords for accounts and logins, passport number, date of birth, credit/debit card numbers, etc.
The repercussions of identity theft are endless. It can ruin your credit, take years to recover from, and is extremely invasive.
Please take the time to familiarize yourself with what identity theft is, how you can protect yourself, and what you can do if you become a victim of identity theft. At the bottom of the page, you will see several links to resources and other information on identity theft.
How Can I Protect My Identity?
- Shred documents that contain bank account numbers, credit card statements, credit card pre-approval applications, etc. you do not want prior to throwing them in the trash
- NEVER provide personal identifying information over the phone, unless you initiated the phone call to your creditors, etc. Only release this information when absolutely necessary
- NEVER leave receipts at cashier counters, ATMs, in trash cans, at gas pumps etc. Shred all unwanted receipts and paperwork
- Check your mail box daily. If you plan to be away from home for several days, place a hold on your mail until you return
- Review bank account and credit card statements for accuracy. If you notice any unauthorized activity, report it to the bank or credit card companies immediately
- Ensure you have the proper firewall protections on your computer, especially when accessing public Wi-fi networks
- Review your credit report at least once a year to ensure there are no unauthorized open accounts. You are allotted one free credit report from all three major credit bureaus per year. Request your report at Annualcreditreport.com
- Sign up for credit monitoring through your credit card company, your financial institution (if available), or a reputable credit monitoring company
Criminals continue to derive new and complex scams to defraud unsuspecting victims. Be aware of and protect yourself against these scams. Below is a brief list of common types of scams. For more information, check out the resources below.
- Phishing - probably the most notable scams everyone has heard of. These scams attempt to draw information out of victims through online communication.
- Vishing - scams in which a perpetrator contacts a victim by phone and attempts to solicit personal information; you may be asked to verify an account number, re-activate a debit/credit card, or advise you that your account is past due and you need to make a payment over the phone.
- Smishing - scams in which a perpetrator contacts a victim through a text message in an attempt to solicit personal information; you may be asked to call a number and verify an account number, make a payment by phone, or re-activate your credit/debit card.