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Protecting Myself

Identity theft

The more you have, the more you have to lose.

Identity theft is a recurring and growing issue. Thieves have more opportunities to discover information about you. Learn about actions you can take to protect yourself and your identity.

Is someone targeting you?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information like your name, social security number or date of birth, with the intent to commit a fraud.

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How much money is lost to identity theft?

That’s correct.

Consumers reported $905 million in total fraud losses. And credit card fraud was the most common form of identity theft.

Not exactly.

Consumers reported $905 million in total fraud losses. And credit card fraud was the most common form of identity theft.

 

Why protect yourself?

Certain groups are more likely to be targets of identity theft including the young and the more affluent. Once someone steals your identity, it can cost thousands of dollars or more and take hundreds of hours to resolve. Here are different methods used to steal someone’s identity.

Phishing

Thieves call or email, posing as financial companies asking for personal information

Rummaging

Thieves search your trash or mailbox for financial statements

Skimming

Dishonest store employees steal credit/debit card numbers using a “skimmer” device

Telemarketing schemes

Thieves call claiming you won a prize and request your personal information

Phony credit card check

A person calls posing as a credit card company employee and asks you to confirm your card number and other details.

Social network searches

Popular social networking sites are searched for personal data

Spyware

A computer virus is used to steal personal data from your computer

Hacking

Thieves break into email, online accounts and databases to access your information

Shoulder surfing

Thieves observe you entering your PIN or password at an ATM

Avoid being a victim

Knowing what to look out for and making sure you routinely monitor and safeguard your personal information is essential. Here are some of the dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

Dos

  • Buy and use a paper shredder on documents that contain personal information
  • Regularly check your credit report for unusual activity
  • Install virus protection on your computer
  • Store important documents like bank statements in a locked place

Don’ts

  • Click on links in unsolicited emails
  • Give information to just anyone who calls you. Call back customer service to confirm the request is legitimate.
  • Trust caller ID – it can be manipulated to show misleading information
  • Carry your Social Security card

 

If you become a victim of identity theft, here are some actions you can take to help get your identity and finances back under your control.

  • File an Initial Fraud Alert with a credit reporting agency and consider putting a credit freeze on file with all three credit reporting agencies.
  • Access your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies. Look over each report carefully and note any detail that isn’t yours.
  • File an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission to let federal and local authorities know about the crime.
  • File a police report.
  • For each fraudulent entry on your credit report, you’ll need to file a dispute with the fraud department of each credit reporting agency and contact any lenders or collections agencies associated with the activity.

Are younger people at risk?

Identity theft is not limited to grownups. Children are also targeted by thieves. In one year, more than 1 million children in the U.S. are victims of ID theft.1 Children are a target because the theft of a child’s identity may not be discovered for years.

Here are steps to take now to prevent a child’s identity, or your own, from being stolen.

  • Don’t overshare personal details such as Social Security numbers. Ask if a Social Security number is actually required or can other information be substituted.
  • Keep sensitive personal and financial information out of sight and locked up.
  • For a child, be on the alert for red flags like collections calls or mailings for preapproved credit card offers.
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