Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, and has ranked as one of the top consumer concerns for the past several years.
Know Your Resources
Review Your Credit Reports
Request your free annual credit report from all three major agencies every year and check it carefully for suspicious activity. Order the reports online at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. You will go through a simple verification process and your reports will be mailed to you.
Tools to Help Victims of Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a website ftc.gov/idtheft to inform consumers about all aspects of ID Theft and provide tools to help ID Theft victims. Click on the link below for this website.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) maintains a website fdic.gov/consumers/theft/ to inform consumers about Identity Theft. This website contains videos and links to other helpful sites regarding Identity Theft. Click on the link below for this website.
Use Caution with Personal Documentation
Be cautious about where you leave any documents.
- Keep your Social Security card, birth certificate and any other important identification documentation in a secure place.
- Think of your bills and bank and credit card statements as direct access to your cash and secure them accordingly.
- Consider shredding sensitive documents rather than simply throwing them away. (Some thieves will go through garbage to find personal information).
- Make sure to lock up personal files at work and be aware of who has access to your workspace and employee information.
Know What Information You Carry & Share
Do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call or are absolutely certain with whom you are speaking.
- Ask how any information that you provide will be used and secured.
- Photocopy the contents of your wallet in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen. Copy both sides of your license, credit cards, bank cards and all other pertinent information. Keep the copies in a secure place.
- Don't carry credit and debit cards that you absolutely don't need. This will minimize the potential damage if your wallet is lost or stolen. Be aware that most health benefit medical and pharmacy cards have the holder's Social Security number imprinted on the front. If you don't need to carry these with you, don't.
PIN & Password Safety
Memorize personal identification numbers (such as your card PIN) and online passwords. Don't keep those numbers or passwords in your wallet or purse. Never write them on the cards themselves! Avoid using easily available personal information like a birthday, nickname, mother's maiden name or consecutive numbers. If asked to provide your Social Security number, ask if another identifier can be used instead.
Credit & Debit Awareness
When using your credit/debit card in restaurants or stores, keep a constant eye on your card and who is handling it.
- Be aware of the “swipe and theft” scam using card skimmers. A skimmer is a machine that records the information from the magnetic stripe on a credit card to be downloaded onto a personal computer later. Your card can be swiped on a skimmer by a dishonest employee and that data can then be used to make duplicate copies of your credit/debit card.
- Be mindful of “shoulder surfers” when using ATMs and never use an ATM that looks like it has been tampered with or otherwise altered.
- Report lost or stolen credit, debit or ATM cards immediately. Consider registering your credit, debit and ATM cards with a liability protection service.