What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when your personal information is stolen and used to commit fraud or other crimes. It is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans every year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up a special website to address what Identity Theft is, how to deter it, detect it, and defend against it.
How Do I DETER Identity Theft?
While there is no foolproof or complete way to protect all of your personal information, there are several steps you can take to help safeguard it and reduce your risk such as:
• Protecting your Social Security number
• Treating your trash and mail carefully
• Being on guard when using the Internet
• Selecting intricate passwords
• Verifying sources before sharing information
• Safeguarding your purse and wallet
How Do I DETECT Identity Theft?
There are a lot of ways to detect Identity Theft, all of which involve vigilance when it comes to your financial accounts. Make sure you review your bank statements, credit card statements and credit reports on a regular basis and look for any unusual or inaccurate information.
How Do I DEFEND Against Identity Theft?
If you believe you are a victim of Identity Theft, there are four steps you should take immediately (note: make sure you document all the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence):
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338)
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
For more information on DEFENDING against Identity Theft, click here.
For more helpful Avoiding Fraud information, please see the links below: