What is identity theft?

  • Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information, such as your Social Security number, to commit a crime such as:
    • Open new accounts
    • Make purchases
    • Get medical treatment on your health insurance
    • Get a tax refund
    • Give your name to the police in the event of an arrest
  • The Federal Trade Commission reports that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

How can you protect your identity?

  • Verify legitimacy before giving out personal information
    • Make sure that someone is who they say they are before disclosing any of your personal information
    • Most legitimate organizations will contact you by mail first before phoning or e-mailing you
  • Read your credit card and bank statements carefully and often
  • Shred all documents containing personal and financial information
  • Review your credit report at least once a year
  • Be careful what you post on social media and other sites
  • Make use of an identity theft protection service
    • For a fee, these companies will monitor your financial accounts and personal information

 

What are some signs that your information may have been stolen?

  • You find unfamiliar accounts on your credit report
  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you didn’t make
  • The IRS informs you that more than one tax return was filed under your name
  • Debt collectors call about debts that are not yours
  • You are denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition you don’t have
  • You don’t get your bills or other mail

How can you recover from identity theft?

  • If you notice any of these warning signs, go to IdentityTheft.gov for help guiding you through the next steps:
    • Call the companies where you know fraud occurred
    • Place a fraud alert on your credit report
    • Report the identity theft to the FTC
    • File a report with your local police department
  • IdentityTheft.gov and your local police department will work with you to get your life, and your identity, back.