Consumer Tips: Identity Theft
If your identity has been stolen, you must act quickly to resolve the problem and minimize the damage. For more information on identity theft, visit the following sites:
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time and money, destroy your credit and ruin your good name.
However, there are ways you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:
Protect Your Information
Shred all documents that show personal, financial, and medical information before you throw them away.
Review your bank, credit card, and account statements, and the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan. If a statement has mistakes or doesn’t come on time, contact the business.
Do not respond to email, text, and phone messages that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information this way. Delete the messages.
Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall on your computer. Set your computer’s operating system, web browser, and security system to update automatically.
Never give out personal information, unless you are sure who you are giving the information to and for what purpose it will be used. Protect you social security, account numbers, passwords, pin numbers and other personal information.
Create passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.
When shopping or banking online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. An encrypted site has “https” at the beginning of the web address; “s” is for secure. If you use a public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
Read your credit reports. You have the right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order all three reports at once, or order one report every four months. To order, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.