Identifying Online Fraud... Know the Enemy.
So what else do you need to know about identity theft? Here are some common questions you may have about this growing concern.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America today. It involves someone stealing personal information (your name, driver's license number, Social Security Number, account number, etc.) for fraudulent use. Armed with your personal information, identity thieves can gain access to your accounts, open new accounts in your name, apply for credit and even charge purchases to you. Identity theft is costly and time consuming for its victims.
How do identity thieves obtain my personal information for fraudulent use?
Often identity thieves steal information from mailboxes, garbage cans or dumpsters. Many people are victims of identity theft through telemarketing scams and computer hacking, including e-mail scams.
What is the impact of identity theft?
Identity theft can impact your credit rating and make it difficult for you to make major purchases like a home or car. Once your identity is stolen, it takes time and money to restore all of your personal data.
What steps can I take to protect myself against identity theft?
To protect your personal information, employ the following tips:
- Change your e-mail and other passwords regularly.
- Shred any documents with account and other identifying numbers after you review them. Make arrangements to receive your statements online whenever possible.
- Make it difficult for thieves to get ‘identifying information’ from your mail and mailbox. Take envelopes containing checks and other sensitive information directly to the post office instead of leaving them in your mailbox.
- Handle your Credit Cards Responsibly:
- Sign the credit cards you do use
- Cancel the credit cards you do not use
- Carry only those you would use in an emergency
- Do not lend your card or card number to anyone
- Do not leave your cards unsecured in a car, hotel room, at work, etc.
- Make certain your card is returned to you after you make a purchase
- Open and review your credit card bills immediately
- Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- Beware of ‘Good Samaritans’ who claim to have found your lost credit cards with a promise to mail them to you. Call the issuer and cancel the cards immediately to be safe.
- Keep sensitive documents (Social Security Card, Passports, Birth Certificates, etc.) in a secure place.
- Always protect your account information. Memorize passwords and PINs – never keep them in a wallet, purse, or Rolodex. Never write a Social Security or credit card number on a check.
- Review monthly account statements to verify all transactions.
- Check your personal credit report at least three times annually.
- Consider Identity Theft Insurance or use a credit monitoring service.