Identity Theft

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IDENTITY THEFT: Helpful hints to lower the risk of Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a crime. Imposters use key pieces of your personal information such as your Social Security and driver's license numbers to obtain funds for their personal gain. Once your information has been stolen, it may take months or years and thousands of dollars to regain your good name and credit record. The process to regain your identity is a long and tedious one. 

The following are different types of Identity Theft to be aware of:

Financial ID Theft
- This type revolves around your name and Social Security number.
Criminal ID Theft
- Your personal information is used by the thief when stopped by law enforcement.
Identity Cloning
- An imposter establishes a “new life” using your personal information.
Business or Commercial Identity Theft
- Credit cards or checking accounts with the businesses name are used unbeknownst to the business owner.

The best defense against Identity theft is a good offense. Here are a few suggestions to help prevent Identity Theft:

  •  Do not carry your SSN card. 
  •  Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary. 

                      Ask: Why do you need my SSN?
How will my SSN be used?
How do you protect my SSN from being stolen?
What will happen if I don't give you my SSN?

Some businesses may not provide you with the information you want until they  verify your identity. By getting answers to the above questions, you will make an informed decision on whether you want to share your SSN with the business.

  • Use a password for your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Use something unusual. Make your passwords fun but definitely something you will remember.
  •  When going out, only carry the cards that are actually needed.
  •  Treat your mail and trash carefully. Shred or tear mail that may have personal information inside and deposit your outgoing mail at the post office.
  •  Periodically review your credit report. This report contains information on where you live, where you work, the credit accounts that you have open, how you pay your bills and whether you have been sued, arrested or filed bankruptcy. By reviewing your credit report, you can verify the account balances and authorized activity. 

Identity Theft Resources

How to Practice Safe Computing

Phishing and spoofing scams sent out to consumers is increasing dramatically.  While on-line banking is widely considered to be safe or safer than teller transactions or using an ATM, PLEASE be careful about giving out your personal financial information over the Internet.  If it sounds to good to be true, it is NOT true.

Avoid becoming a victim of scams:

  1. Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information
  2. Be careful of e-mails that are not personalized, contain spelling errors, or awkward grammar and phrasing.
  3. Be careful of personalized e-mails that ask for personal financial information
  4. Do not use links in an e-mail to get to any Web page
  5. Do not complete forms in e-mail messages that ask for personal financial information.