Identity Theft encompasses all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
How Do They Get This Information?
- Personal records are a prime source for identity thieves
- Shoulder Surfing
- Dumpster Diving
- “Pre-approved” credit cards
- The Internet
- Medical Records
Start protecting yourself by adopting a “need to know” approach to your personal data. If someone you don’t know calls you on the telephone and offers you the chance to receive a “major” credit card, a prize, or other valuable item, but asks you for personal data — ask them to send you a written application form. There a surprising number of places where a person’s social security number is their identity number.
Protect these items, like your credit depends on it:
Name Social Security Number Credit Card Number Passport
It is a scam to steal valuable information such as credit card and social security numbers, user IDs and passwords. An official-looking e-mail is sent to potential victims pretending to be from their ISP, bank or retail establishment. Signs that an e-mail is a scam:
- From an unknown source or states not a scam
- Wants you to update or confirm account information and threatens to close account if you don’t respond
- Fake pop-up windows – pop-up blockers
To protect yourself from a phishing scam, do not reply to an e-mail nor email personal or financial information over the internet to someone that you do not know. When you initiate a transaction online look for indicators that the site is secured.
How Can You Tell If You’re A Victim Of Identity Theft?
If an identity thief is opening new credit accounts in your name, these accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. If you have lost any personal information – or if it has been stolen, and you start failing to receive bills or other mail you may have an issue. Also, you might be a victim of identity theft if you are receiving credit cards for which you did not apply or denied credit for no apparent reason, and worse, receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you didn’t purchase.
Dealing With Identity Theft
If you think you’ve become a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission
- Postal Inspection Service
- Contact the fraud units of the three major credit reporting companies
- The Social Security Administration (800-269-0271)
- The Internal Revenue Service (1-800-829-0433)
- Contact all creditors with whom your name or identifying data have been fraudulently used
- Contact all financial institutions where you have accounts that an identity thief has taken over or that have been created in your name but without your knowledge
- Contact the major check verification companies
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place