Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft
The following questions and answers regarding identity theft will help you recognize opportunities for identity theft and protect yourself and others.
Q: What is identity theft?
A: Identity theft is a federal crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal information in a fraudulent or deceptive manner.
Q: What can I do to help prevent identity theft?
A: You can prevent identity theft by safeguarding your personal information. Here are steps you should take to prevent identity theft:
- Shred bank statements
- Cut up unwanted pre-approved credit cards before throwing them away
- Don’t give out your Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary
- Protect all passwords
- Passwords aren’t just for financial statements. Whenever possible, put passwords on all your accounts, including telephone and utilities. When selecting a password, avoid easily available information such as your mother’s maiden name, your children’s names or your birth date.
- Get a copy of your credit report
- Carefully review every cell phone bill, credit card statement and bank statement
- Keep virus protection and a firewall on personal and workplace computers
- Don’t walk away from your computer with personal information on the screen
Q: What do I do if I suspect identity theft?
A: If you suspect there might be a problem or exposure, contact the police immediately. Also contact your bank and credit card companies, and the following major credit agencies:
You should also learn more about identity theft from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G Street, Northwest
Washington, DC 20552