Identity (ID) theft is a crime where a thief steals your personal information, such as your full name or Social Security number, to commit fraud. Your information can be used to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services. These acts can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name.
You may not know that you are the victim of ID theft until you experience a financial consequence (mystery bills, credit collections, denied loans) down the road from actions that the thief has taken with your stolen identity.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
There are several ways consumers can protect their personal information, and therefore, better protect themselves against identity theft:
- Do not respond to emails asking for personal information (Example: Bank info update)
- Make sure your full credit card number or expiration date does not appear on receipts
- Never give out account numbers or social security numbers to strangers
- Never write your social security number on checks or use as a password
- Obtain a free credit report and look for and report any inconsistent information
- Properly dispose of bills, monthly statements, credit offers and convenience checks
The Federal Trade Commission and Other Resources
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the lead agency for reporting and combating identity theft. They offer many resources online, from reporting identity theft to articles and information about common scams and tips for securing and repairing your good name.
- IdentityTheft.gov - Report identity theft and get a recovery plan
- Taking Charge - What to do if Your Identity is Stolen - an FTC publication on recovering from identity theft
- Credit Cards and Identity Theft
- Information from the Social Security Administration
- Information from the 3 Major Credit Bureaus: