Identity theft can affect anyone.
Identity theft is the practice of someone else using your personal information to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards or loans, or conduct other fraudulent acts. Once identity theft occurs the victim may find they are unable to obtain credit or secure loans due to damaged credit. The victim may even face legal problems due to the fraud committed by the criminal. It can take months and sometimes years to correct all the fraudulent activity and regain your normal credit history.
- Do not carry your social security card or other document that has your Social Security Number with you. Keep it in a safe place separate from other documents or materials that have your personal information.
- Shred statements and other documents that contain account numbers or other personal information before they are thrown out.
- Review your statements for any suspicious activity or transactions. Inquire with your bank or credit card provider if you do not receive a statement when expected.
- Report lost or stolen cards as soon as possible.
- Verify your User Authenticity – When you sign up for online banking the system will prompt you to create your own personal password. Do not use words; make sure you use a variety of letters, numbers and symbols.
- Protect your Password – Do not give your password to anyone. Financial institutions will not initiate contact with you and ask for your social security number or your password. If you do not remember your password after three attempts the system will lock you out. The bank will have to reset your account and you will be required to create a new password.
If you feel that your identity has been stolen, it is important that you take immediate action.
- Notify your financial institution.
- Review your credit report for accuracy – you may obtain one free report from each agency per year by going to annualcreditreport.com.
- Notify the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. You can request to establish fraud alerts, extended fraud alerts, and additional protective measures.
- Report the incident to local law enforcement.
- Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC maintains a log of all identity theft cases, which is used by law enforcement to monitor for trends and catch the bad guys.
The following Federal Government agencies maintain web sites for reporting and defending yourself against identity theft.
- US Department of Justice
- President’s Identity Theft Task Force
To write a letter to the Federal Trade Commission regarding Identity Theft, send it to the following address:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington D.C. 20580
Call 1-800-IDTHEFT (438-4338)