Preventing Identity Theft
DETER, DETECT & DEFEND – FIGHTING BACK AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT
Identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes in America. It is happening to everyone from coast to coast. Even though there are laws prohibiting this type of activity, you should take extra measures to lessen the risk of becoming a victim.
Credit identity theft is the unauthorized use of a person's identifying information to open new financial accounts. It also includes using your existing accounts to steal your money or charge items, eventually leaving you with the bills.
Identity thieves are most interested in your personal information, including Social Security number, date of birth, mother's maiden name and your existing account numbers at your financial institutions. Having this information will enable them to pass as you.
HOW DO I PROTECT AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT?
DETER: minimize your risk
- Protect your Social Security number
- Treat your trash and mail carefully
- Be on guard when using the Internet
- Select intricate passwords
- Verify sources before sharing information
- Safeguard your purse and wallet
- Store information in secure locations
DETECT: identifying if you are a victim
- Review your financial and credit card statements carefully for unknown transactions.
- Receiving credit cards that you didn't apply for.
- Being denied credit or being offered less favorable credit terms, like a high interest rate, for no apparent reason.
- Failing to receive bills or other mail. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
- Getting calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you didn't buy.
DEFEND: recover from identity theft
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
For more information, please visit the
Federal Trade Commission’s website on Identity Theft