What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft, or identity fraud, is a form of fraud in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, or use of your personal information without your permission for unlawful purposes.
- Access resources such as information to your bank account in order to spend money
- Obtain credit such as opening a credit card or car loan
- Obtain other benefits in that person’s name such as medical services
Who are the victims of Identity Theft?
Victims of identity theft include people of all ages, societal, educational, and economic backgrounds. There are two types of identity theft victims:
- Identity theft victim’s personal information was stolen
- Identity theft victim’s identity has been associated with a criminal record
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
- Identity thieves steal personal information by rummaging through trash looking for bills or other papers with personal information on it
- Identity thieves steal credit card or debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card
- Scammer pretends to be a government organization, private organization, or an individual such as the IRS, a debt collector, or someone who offers the deal or job of a life time
- Identity thieves pretend to be financial institutions or companies, and they send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information
Changing Your Address
- Identity thieves divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form
- Identity thieves steal wallets and purses, mail, pre-approval credit card offers, and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records from employers, or bribe employees who have access to the files.
If You Are A Victim
Report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Also, request information on fraudulent accounts and request additional free credit reports if available.
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- Equifax: 1-800-535-6285
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- Fraud alerts help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name
Report the crime to the police. You can also see the Office of Privacy Protection Checklist for more information.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- ID Theft Hotline: 1-877-438-4338
Close the compromised or fraudulently opened accounts
- Change all PINs on debit cards and all online passwords
How To Prevent Identity Theft
- Protect your Social Security Number
- Don’t carry your Social Security Card in your wallet. If your health plan or another card lists you SSN, ask the company for a different number.
- Fight Phishing
- Don’t give out your personal information unless you have made the contact. Don’t respond to a request to verify your account number or password.
- Ask questions when you are uncertain about a situation.
- Control your personal finance information
- CA law requires your bank to get your permission before sharing your personal information with outside companies
- Shield your computer from viruses and spies
- Use strong passwords
- Use a firewall
- Install virus and spyware protection software
- Click with Caution
- When shopping online, make sure that you check for “https” and a padlock in the address bar before entering your credit card or personal information
- Check your bills and bank statements
- Tear or shred them afterwards
- Stop pre-approved credit offers
- Check your credit report
- Call toll-free: 1-877-322-8228
- Order online: www.annualcreditreport.com