Identity theft can happen to anyone. Protect yourself and your identity.
What Do Thieves Do With Your Information?
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.
Possible Warning Signs
- Receiving bills from a credit account you did not open
- Seeing unauthorized charges on your credit, long distance, or bank accounts
- Being contacted by a collection agency regarding a debt you did not incur
- Checks disappearing from your checkbook
- Bank and credit billing statements not arriving on time
- Credit reports showing accounts you did not authorize
- Being turned down for a credit card, loan, mortgage, or other form of credit due to unauthorized debts on your credit report
Protecting Your Identity
You can reduce the chance that you will be a victim of identity theft by taking the following precautions:
- Minimize the amount of personal financial information you carry. Memorize passwords and PIN numbers instead of carrying them with you.
- Keep personal financial information in a secure place in your home. Shred identifying information before throwing it away.
- Do not give sensitive information to unsolicited callers. Remember that most legitimate businesses will not ask for your Social Security Number or bank account numbers.
- Shield your hand when entering your PIN at a bank ATM or when making long distance calls with a calling card. Take your credit card receipts and ATM slips. Shred them before throwing them away.
- Pick up new checks or a new or reissued credit card at your bank rather than having them delivered to your home. Do not have your driver's license number or social security number printed on your checks.
- If your bank or credit card statement does not arrive on time, call the issuer to make sure that they are being sent to the proper address. Also, contact the post office to see if a change of address has been filed in your name. A thief may steal or divert your statements to hide illegal credit activity.
If You Suspect You Are A Victim of Identity Theft
Visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Website for detailed information on what you need to do right away if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft.