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Identity Theft

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, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit or other benefits in that person’s name.

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 identity theft occurs…

Identity theft occurs in a multitude of ways:

  • Dumpster Diving
    • Identity thieves steal personal information by rummaging through trash looking for bills or other papers with personal information on it
  • Skimming
    • Identity thieves steal credit card or debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card
  • Phishing
    • 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
  • Stealing
    • 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.

What to do if you are victimized…

Report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus:

  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • Equifax: 1-800-535-6285
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Also, report the crime to the police, request information on fraudulent accounts, and request additional free credit reports. You can also see the Office of Privacy Protection Checklist for more information.

How to protect yourself from further identity theft attacks…

  • 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.
  • 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
    • 1-888-5OPTOUT
    • 1-888-567-8688
  • Check your credit report

Resources for victims of identity theft

You may be eligible for compensation…

The California Victim Compensation Program may be able to help victims who were injured or threatened with physical injury as the result of identity theft. See the following link to find out how to apply for compensation:
http://vcgcb.ca.gov/victims/fraud.aspx

or contact the California Victim Compensation Program:
Phone: 1-800-777-9229
Web: http://www.vcgcb.ca.gov