About Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or other financial account information without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Thieves use a variety of methods to get a hold of your information including, but not limited to:
- Rummaging through your trash: Thieves look through your trash for items that contain your personal information such as a credit card or bank statements.
- Phishing: Thieves send spam or pop-up messages via email or text message and get you to divulge personal or banking information.
- Theft: Thieves steal your wallet, purse, and mail. In doing so, they obtain your credit / debit cards and financial information. They may also obtain pre-approved credit card offers or new checks from your mailbox.
- Skimming: Thieves use a special storage device and steal your credit / debit card information.
What to Do if Your Identity is Stolen
- File a police report.
- Check your credit report:
- Notify creditors that your identity was stolen.
- Dispute any unauthorized transactions with your financial institution.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
- Shred receipts, credit card applications, financial statements, etc. If not, keep them in a secured place.
- Cut up / shred old credit cards
- Be diligent about checking your bank and credit card statements. Make sure only authorized purchases were made.
- Use a secured (locked) mail box when sending and receiving mail.
- Get a copy of your credit report.
- Protect your social security number.
- Only make purchases from web sites you’re familiar with and that have a secure site.
- Do not give personal information.
- Close accounts you suspect have been tampered with