What is it?
It is the act of using someone's personal information illegally and without their knowledge to obtain bank accounts, credit cards, loans, make purchases or file false tax returns. The victim usually does not know this has occurred until they receive a past due or delinquent notice for items that have been purchased in their name or they attempt to file their tax return.
How do they get my information?
These are just a few of the ways thieves can obtain your information.
- Internet scams are used to acquire the information by claiming to be your financial institution wanting you to "update" or "confirm" private information.
- They will break into your car or home and take your wallet or other personal documents such as social security card and driver license.
- They will complete a change of address form to have your mail redirected to another location.
- They gain access your computer through phishing schemes.
- They call you on the telephone and trick you into giving your account number out over the phone.
- They will compromise your email account.
What can I do to protect myself?
- Make sure the websites are legitimate and secure before giving out any of your information online.
- Keep your bank documents and any other personal information in a secure location.
- Shred private documents such as bank statements or credit card statements. Do not just throw them away.
- Reconcile your bank statement regularly to watch for any unauthorized transactions.
- Check your credit report annually.
- Do not give confidential information in response to an email or a phone call. Banks do not request this type of information.
- Use strong passwords and change them often.
- Limit the personal information you share on social media websites or apps.
- Use caution on public wireless networks.
- If you are active military place an “Active Duty” alert on your credit report before you deploy.
If I become a victim, what should I do?
- Report it immediately to the proper authorities.
- Notify your financial institution and any creditors.
- Notify the Federal Trade Commission, by calling 877.382.4357 or online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
- Notify government agencies such as the Post Office and Social Security Administration.
- Notify any credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies.