Identity theft is a crime that occurs when a criminal uses your information without your permission to do things in your name or access your records. The effects could result in financial damage and it can be traumatizing. Therefore, it is important to take steps towards preventing identity theft.
Identity Thieves are After Your
- Name and address
- Credit card and bank account numbers
- Social security
- Medical insurance
- Phone number
What Identity Thieves Do With Your Personal Information
- Buy goods and services with your credit cards
- Get new credit cards with your name
- Open phone, electricity, and gas accounts
- Steal tax refund
- Get medical care under your name
- Pretend to be you if they are arrested
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
- Stealing bills and other personally identifying information out of the trash.
- Sending you fake emails to collect personal information.
- Hacking into databases of companies and government agencies that may contain your data.
- Malware may be unknowingly installed on your computer or other devices to control your online activity and collect your login credentials.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
- Do not give personal information to strangers by phone, mail, or online.
- Protect your personal information. Store pins and passwords in places that are not visible to others.
- Keep software on devices up to date.
- Review your credit report at least annually to check for accounts that you did not open.
- Watch for people looking over your shoulder in public and cover the keypad when typing in passwords or pins.
- Shred private documents such as receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, and other financial and health records.
How Do You Know if Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- Pay attention to your bills for unusual activity and purchases or withdrawals that you did not make. Also, check your mail for bills you stop receiving or new bills that you do not know about.